Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

2010: hardly any closures compared to 2009

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

2009 was a very bad year for free newspapers – that is for the ones that closed down or suffered because of competition and the economy. In 2010, the worst seems to be behind us.

In 2007 30 titles (52 editions) closed down, a year later 33 free dailies closed (77 editions) while in 2009 no less than 42 titles (97 editions) were terminated. In the first 8 months of 2010, however, only 3 titles (4 editions) were closed. (Click on the graph for a better view.)

The development of circulation, titles and countries with free newspapers (1995-2010) was covered in a previous post.


Newsletter no. 56

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

The newsletter is not dead, I was just busy. In issue 56 (covering May/August):

  • 15 years of free dailies, the decline stopped in 2010
  • Brazil: Metro Campinas launch
  • plans for France & UK
  • closures in Portugal, Venezuela, Mexico
  • South-African free daily goes paid
  • top 10 circulation free dailies
  • Israel Today beat Yediot in readership
  • Vienna city sponsors free dailies
  • Italian papers strike
  • Metro UK sues faker
  • third anti-freesheet bill proposed in Israel
  • Austria: Heute & Kronen fasten families ties
  • Metro International expects profits for 2010
  • Metro Greece sold
  • and much more….

the last issue can be downloaded from the newsletters page.

15 years of free dailies

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

The history of free dailies certainly shows rise and fall. A slow start in the first four years was followed by a permanent growth for the next 10 years. In 2008 there were 266 free papers published in 60 countries with a total average circulation of 42 million.

In 2009 and 2010 the number of countries dropped to 55, while the number of papers is less than 200 in July 2010. Circulation is now 35 million.


The largest drop in circulation and number of titles was in Europe. In 2007 there were 140 papers with a circulation of 27 million, in 2010 this is down to 87 papers with a circulation of 19.3 million.

Does this mean the business model of free newspapers coming to an end? Probably not. In Latin America and Asia there is no sign of decline. In Europe the market was so competitive that closures were probably inevitable.

What remains is a situation with less papers per market (3.6 per country), which is a more healthy model than in 2007 and 2008 (4.7 per country).

A note on method:

  • Circulation is ‘average’ circulation, meaning that papers that are not published for the whole year (new entries and closed down papers) are only counted for the period they were published. The ‘end of year’ circulation differs somewhat from this number.
  • Titles is the total number of titles published that year, including new and closed down titles.
  • Countries indicate the number of countries with free newspapers during any moment of that year.

Article on Spanish free dailies

Friday, July 9th, 2010

InforamericaIn the 2010-2 issue of Infoamérica, I published an article on concentration of free papers, with some special attention on Spain.

The article contains information on the development of the number of free dailies in Europe, increasing to 139 in 2007 and dropping after that to 82 in 2010.

The article (in Spanish: “De la competencia al monopolio; Los periodicos gratuitos despues de la crisis”) can be downloaded from the website of the magazine.

The issue is devoted to problems of printed media. The University of Malaga is organizing a seminar on these issues.

AEPG guide on Madrid free papers

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

aepgrapport.2010The Spanish organization for the free press AEPG (Asociación Española de la Prensa Gratuita), published a report on all free publications available in the capital Madrid.

The “La Guía de Publicaciones gratuitas de Madrid” was edited and compiled by the University Complutense of Madrid and the AEPG.

The study was conducted at the end of 2009  and contains a study by professor Fernando Peinado, and also information on 140 publications, divided into three groups: local information, national information and technical information.

The study is available for €30 via the website of the AEPG.

The French miracle

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Circulation of free dailies is declining all over Europe while in all countries titles and editions closed down. France, however, seems to be the exception: circulation increased except for a small drop in 2009 while only one of the 30 editions that ever were launched in France closed down. In 2009 and 2010 four new editions were launched.

Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Rennes/Nantes, Toulouse, and Strasbourg have three different titles in the morning while Paris has a free evening paper as well.

Metro (with TF1 holding a 34.5% stake) was first on the scene in February 2002 in Paris and Marseille. A month later Lyon followed while editions for Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Rennes/Nantes and Strasbourg were launched in 2004 and 2005. In 2009 Metro cut circulation with 10% to 660,000.

20 Minutes (Schibsted, 50% Sofiouest/Groupe Ouest France) entered in March 2002 in Paris and launched seven more editions in 2004 and 2005; in March 2010 a Nice edition was added. Also 20 Minutes cut circulation in 2009 with 10%.

Local free papers by publishers of the local paid paper, united under the Ville Plus brand were launched in Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Toulon and Montpellier. Only the Toulon edition did not survive.

Millionaire Vincent Bolloré started in 2006 with free Paris evening paper Direct Matin, while he added Paris morning paper Direct Matin Plus in 2007. In Nantes, Nice, Strasbourg and Toulouse he launched free dailies under the Ville Plus flag as well. The ‘Direct’ brand is also used for his TV-channel and free sports weekly. Bolloré cut circulation of his papers in 2009 with 25%.


In 2009 circulation dropped with 12% but in 2010 circulation increased again because of the launch of 20 Minutes in Nice. The number of editions increased from 5 in 2002 to 23 in 2005 and 29 in 2010.

Newsletter no. 55

Monday, April 19th, 2010

In the March/April newsletter (no. 55):

  • The French miracle: no closures but launches
  • Barometer: 1999-2010 America’s
  • Launch of 20 Minutes Nice
  • Circulation cuts in the Netherlands, Portugal & Denmark
  • Dutch, Danish, UK, Austrian, Swiss, Canadian, French & Polish readership
  • Online: print recognition, user’s pictures & web partners
  • Publishers: Tamedia, Agora, Ringier & Bolloré
  • Welt Aktuell expansion
  • Israel Today weekend edition
  • No Sunday paper for Heute
  • Moscow Times full color
  • Frettabladid cuts & sacks
  • Book on De Pers

The newsletter can be downloaded from here.

Book on De Pers

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Gratismaar nietgoedkoop

Free daily De Pers, launched in 2007 as the third Dutch free daily is the subject of a book of free lance journalist Govert Schilling.

In “Gratis maar niet goedkoop” (Free but not cheap) Schilling covers the turbulent history of the paper. The ambition was to become the largest – and the best – newspaper in the Netherlands within one year.

The ambitions, however, almost killed the paper. It launched a Saturday edition, experimented with a fee business paper, introduced door-to-door distribution, published books, but mostly burned money at a fast pace.

Last year the paper cut down on circulation (from 500,000 in the first year to 200,000) while it was saved by regional publisher Wegener (Mecom) that took over distribution, printing and sales.

Europe: free circulation down in 2009 and 2010

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

In 2009 the average free circulation in Europe dropped with 19% from 26.2 to 21.3 million. When we compare average circulation in 2010 with 2009 another drop of 9% can be recorded. The number of countries with free dailies went down from 33 in 2008 to 32 a year later (-Estonia) and to 29 (-Turkey, -Ukraine and -Lithuania) in 2010.

In 2007 there were 139 titles published in Europe; that number dropped to 82 in 2010. This also means less competition; in 2006 and 2007 there were 4.5 different free titles published on average in every country; in 2010 this is only 2.8.


As can be seen in the graph, the number of titles is now less than in 2005, although circulation is still higher, an indication that more smaller papers have closed down. In 2006 the average circulation of a free daily was 160,000; in 2010 it was 240,000.

Average circulation differs from ‘end of year’ circulation. In the ‘end of year’ circulation only free dailies that are published at the end of December are taken into account – closed down papers are not included while papers launched during that particular year count in full. For papers that are published throughout the year, however, auditing organizations use average circulation. Therefore it makes sense to use average circulation for all papers.

This means that closed down papers are now also taken into account while new launches are partly included. A paper closed down at the end of October is included for 10/12 of its circulation, papers launched in the beginning of November for 2/12. In years with more closures than launches the average circulation is higher than the ‘end of year’ circulation (that would be 19.6 million for 2009).

Newsletter no. 54

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

In the February newsletter:

  • Average European free circulation down with 19% in 2009; and with 9% in 2010
  • Average circulation per title rises; less competition in most countries
  • Springer launches free airline daily
  • 32 editions of Adevarul de seara within one year
  • Unions fight Direct Matin
  • Ads: free weekly with condom, free daily with bullet holes
  • 15 years of Metro
  • 10 years 20 Minutos
  • Austrian publisher quarrel over racks
  • and news from Turkey, UK, Belgium, Israel, USA and Macedonia

The newsletter can be downloaded from here.