Thursday, February 14, 2008

LA Times launches clone of RedEye

The Los Angeles Times has rolled out its long expected version of the Chicago RedEye, Chicago's successful free daily oriented at the 18-to39 demo.

But it's a weekly, not a daily.

MetroMix Los Angeles hit the streets yesterday with an initial circulation of 100,000 -- a drop in the bucket for a city with a population of 9.9 million. But there are early signs that the circulation will increase if MetroMix succeeds at reaching young readers who don't pick up the LA Times every morning.

"This is something for the Los Angeles Times that's really trying to reach a demo that we haven't before," Rich Stepan, the new publication's general manager, told

Both the LA Times and Chicago Tribune are part of the Tribune Co., which went private last year and is now led by real estate titan Sam Zell. On the same day MetroMix premiered, Zell announced job cuts likely to total 400 to 500 including 100-150 at the LA Times.

The Times says the new publication is based on its MetroMix website, and many of the articles in the first edition were teasers that directed readers back to that site. One of the new publication's features is "Ask A Comic," borrowing somewhat from the "Ask a Mexican" column in the LA Weekly, which will be MetroMix's rival.

The Times accomplishes several things with MetroMix. It stops a youth-oriented free daily from entering the LA market. It also will allow the Times to sell younger demos than its current paper, which has been losing ads and readers for years. It also gives a boost to the MetroMix website. While we don't have figures for that website, newspaper websites in general have seen their growth rates level off in the past few years. MetroMix may become a prototype Tribune can use in other markets where its papers need help reaching younger readers, such as South Florida, Baltimore and Hartford, Conn. And if things work out well, MetroMix could become a daily, giving advertisers more opportunities to reach these young readers.