The French miracle: no impact of free circulation on paid newspapers

Ten years ago free newspapers were introduced in France. Their total circulation increased to more than 2.6 million in 2012. This was a small drop in circulation compared to 2011 (-3%) but except for 2009 (-9% after the closure of DirectSoir) the only year with a drop in circulation (data OJD).

Three titels compete for readers and advertisers. 20 Minutes is now the largest paper in the country, just before DirectMatin-Plus, Metro is fourth after Ouest France.

The weird thing is that paid circulation hardly suffered from the rise of free dailies. Paid papers lost 11% of their circulation since 2002 – just over 1% per year.

Le Monde lost 22%, La Voix du Nord 19%, L’Equipe 14%, Sud Ouest 13% and Le Dauphiné Libéré 12% – the other titles lost less than 10%.

The circulation of paid papers is the ‘total circulation’, including some free distribution, but most titles only distribute a small percentage of their circulation for free. Le Figaro distributes 12% of its circulation for free, all other titles have between 1 and 4% free circulation (click on graph for bigger picture).


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