Thursday, February 08, 2007

Free dailies are bright spot in newspaper biz

Almost every day some reporter writes a story about how the newspaper business is dying, and how the Internet is taking over. But the facts say otherwise. “Free papers are reinvigorating the market,” says Larry Kilman, director of communications at the World Association of Newspapers, based in Paris. Next time somebody tells you newspapers are dying, offer these statistics from the association, as reported by MediaLife Magazine:
    • Newspapers are actually gaining in circulation worldwide, and rather substantially, by 10 percent between 2001 and 2005, to 479 million copies daily;

    • Free daily circulation in the U.S. grew by 127.9 percent over the five years, to 3.3 million copies;

    • By 2005 free papers accounted for 5.8 percent of the U.S. newspaper market by circulation, up from 2.5 percent;

    • In Europe, free papers had grown to make up 15.3 percent of all daily newspaper circulation, up from 7.6 percent, having grown 104 percent over the period, to 16.4 million.

    • The largest free daily in the world is Leggo in Italy, according to WAN, which has a circulation of just over 1 million. Metro in Britain follows with 977,000. The first entry for the U.S. is also Metro with a combined circulation of its Boston, Philadelphia and New York editions of 668,000.
MediaLife concludes, "These growth trends seem likely to continue. As the freesheets bring in new readers, more are expected to launch, and paid-for papers will likely switch to free."