Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Standard fall

The Evening Standard is already well on the way to losing the 100,000 copies a day it’s been predicted it will lose.

A report out today in Media Week says that unofficial reports show that on September 5 it lost 50,000 copies or 18% of its circulation two days after thelondonpaper launched.

This will come as a blow to Associated Newspapers. The Standard’s sales had been holding up in August, rallying from its low July figure of 300,993 with a 4.05% rise to 313,181.

September, which already had the burden of a higher 50p cover price, looks set to be disastrous for Associated, following the launch of News International’s evening freesheet and its own freesheet London Lite.

So far, the evidence has been that Londoners prefer thelondonpaper, but only to a certain degree with both papers being picked up by commuters.

A source with access to the Associated circulation department quoted by Media Week said that just 236,000 copies of the Standard were sold at full price on September 5 compared with the previous week when circulation averaged 275,000.

If you've passed an Evening Standard news vendor recently then you will have noticed the big stack of papers and a look of boredom on his face.

Associated claimed to be only 7,000 copies a day down since the Standard's cover price increased. An increase, which seemed almost suicidal in the face of the fresh competition it has.

Who makes their product more expensive when they face free rivals? What kind a strategy is that? The only other thing it has going for it is its regular Pay Your Mortgage Off promotion, which started on 29 August.

I guess we'll know in early October. If the Standard does lose as many as 100,000 copies in the face of the 800,000 freesheets flooding the market (not including Metro) its future will look grim. There just isn't room for three London evening newspapers.

I don't think Rupert Murdoch will pull the plug on thelondonpaper anytime soon, as Robert Maxwell did with his 80s London Daily News, and Associated is hardly likely to admit defeat.

It could pull the London Lite to save the Standard, but my guess is it already knows there is going to be little worth saving.


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