Three years ago the Manchester Evening News paved the way for the part-free, part-paid-for distribution model for regional newspapers.
The strategy initially helped its circulation soar, albeit at the expense of paid-for copies, and, as regional papers’ circulations continued to fall, others such as the Reading Evening Post and Shrewsbury Chronicle took on the same model.
However, the Manchester Evening News recently amended the strategy to give away the title in the city centre on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only, suggesting that maybe, three years down the line, giving away content for free isn’t working as well as it once did.
The London Evening Standard is the latest regional to adopt a part-paid-for strategy in some areas of outer London, but instead of doing it straight away, it will introduce it in January – three months after the title dropped its 50p cover price.
The paper says it has introduced the service, which will require retailers to charge customers who want a copy 20p a day with 15p going back the Standard, to cater for the readers it has starved of copies since it upped its distribution to 800,000 copies a day, but ignored areas outside central London.
Already the scheme has been met with angry reactions from retailers in greater London.
If your shop qualifies for this paid-for Standard scheme, how likely are you to take up this offer?