Free papers – the future?

26 Feb

ON THE WHOLE, the print industry received a boost as the National Readership Survey published its results for the past year.

The real standout performer from the results was the London Evening Standard, which figures show now has an estimated readership of 1,394,000, a huge 133% increase on last year.

These results follow the Standard dropping its price-tag and becoming a free paper, whilst also increasing its distribution, two bold moves from major shareholder Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev.

These figures now mean the Standard is read by more people than some national titles including the Guardian, amongst others. The Metro, another freesheet also rose, 8%, to 3,597,000.

The real question to arise out of the figures however, are the implications they have for the future of the newspaper industry.

Are free newspapers the future of the print industry? Or will continuing to charge for them be a sustainable option? It will be interesting to see if these figures grow once more next year, then a proper analysis can be made.

It is worth noting, that the most-read newspaper remains The Sun, with 7,761,000 readers, a 1% decrease on last year.

It is certainly an indication that freesheets are becoming a more and more popular choice amongst the newspaper reader.

It raises questions as to how Mr. Lebedev will approach the Independent when he finally assumes control, will that become a free paper also?

Time will tell, but the initial signs are definitely promising.

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