Urban closes, Danish frees down to two

Urban2012With the closure of Urban, Berlingske’s (Mecom) free daily in Denmark, the number of free dailies in the country is down to two.Circulation is now 360,000.

Only 5 years ago there were 11 free dailies in Denmark with a total circulation of more than 2 million.

With the closure of Urban, 87 people will lose their job, although Berlingske claims it will be relaunched a digital platform under the same brand.

Berlingske CEO Lisbeth Knudsen says in a press release (via MediaWatch) that the economic crises and the recession force Berlingske to cost savings, and suggests that the closure is also part of the digital and mobile transition strategy of the company that aims for consolidation and acquisitions in the future.

Kundsen suggest that the closure is expansion in disguise: “We have therefore decided to rethink the Urban brand and change it to a whole new and exciting media concept with new partnerships, where digital will play the main role.”

This is obviously crap. Urban has been losing money during the last years, saw fierce competition from the two Metro papers MetroXpress and 24timer and also ‘forgot’ to apply for press subsidies in the past.

Mecom as a whole is losing big money while the Danish part of the company also lost money in the first 6 months of 2011 – in fact only the Netherlands and Norway (about to be sold) showed a profit.

Urban started in September 2001, three weeks after the launch of MetroXpress in Denmark as a defensive move of the publishers of Berlingske and tabloid BT. The first four years showed promising results but after the freesheet-craze hit the country in 2006 (5 national titles and 4 local ones), the paper never recovered.

Metro closed a deal with competitor JP/Politiken, who got 24.5% of the company and handed over their free daily 24Timer. Urban brought back the 7 editions to only 2 and lowered circulation from 240,000 in 2006 to 200,000 in 2011. Readership dropped from more than 600,000 in 2006 to 233,000 in 2011. (See also Aske Kammer’s blog for an analysis.)

The last issue of Urban will be published tomorrow.

How total circulation in Denmark changed can be seen in the graph below (click for enlargement).


One Response to “Urban closes, Danish frees down to two”

  1. Newspaper Innovation » Blog Archive » Danish newspapers continue readership slide Says:

    [...] free dailies did not profit from the closure of free daily Urban in the beginning of 2012. A similar pattern was visible in the [...]