David Prosser: The capital's biggest media experiment yet
Saturday 03 October 2009
Outlook: Give the London Evening Standard its due: it is not afraid to be contrary. Just as the world's media is contemplating how to begin charging for online content, the capital's newspaper has decided to start giving away its print edition for nothing.
There is some method in its madness. The paper's owner, the Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev, calculates that he can go from selling 250,000 copies each day to distributing 600,000 free papers. That gives him a more compelling sell to advertisers – classified and display – generating enough exta revenue to compensate for the lost sales and increased print costs.
Still, it is quite a gamble. For one thing, is the advertising market (still mired in recession) sufficiently strong to deliver the extra spending required, even assuming advertisers buy Mr Lebedev's argument about all those extra page views? And what will the extra circulation be worth? Advertisers do not attach the same value to readers simply handed a copy of a newspaper – many of whom may not even open it – as they do to customers who hand over their 50p.
Nor, conventional wisdom suggests, do readers entirely respect free newspapers. The Standard will have to maintain its current editorial quality in order to combat that perception, which will be difficult if cost-cutting proves necessary. Indeed, you could see how a spiral of negative feedback might develop.
Still, this is not entirely a leap of faith. Mr Lebedev has been trialling handouts of the paper ever since he bought it. And the Standard is, in its current form, a significantly better product than the freesheets that Londoners are used to, so the attitude of readers and advertisers alike may be much more positive.
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Kate Moss: Previously unpublished nude photo revealed by Mert and Marcus
- 4 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 5 Bad Jews poster 'censored' on London Tube
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
Becky Watts: Four appear in court charged with hiding body parts after teenager's death
Isis 'bulldozes' Nimrud: UNESCO condemns destruction of ancient Assyrian site as a 'war crime'
Professor Brian Cox brands astrology-believing Tory MP David Tredinnick an 'outlier on the spectrum of reason'
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
iJobs Money & Business
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Jemma Gent: In this role you will report to the Head of...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...