Monday, April 16, 2007

Another free paper - but bringing quality content

The freesheet industry is getting an interesting twist in the Netherlands. Free newspapers aren't new, but 'De Pers' (yes, this would be 'the press' in English) adds something new. It bills itself as a 'quality' newspaper.

The paper launched in January and since doubled circulation (to 500k) and added a news website. It distinguishes from the usual free fare with its expanded distribution - not just via public transporation stations but at retail, petrol and office locations as well. Last week they started a home delivery trial.

Obviously, the Spits (owned by Telegraaf) and Metro freesheets will get hurt as they will have to share their section of the advertising market with the #3 player. The Wegener titles (regional newspapers) and the Telegraaf flagship newspaper (let's say, 'low brow' fare) seem to be pretty much insulated from this effect by virtue of their content. Privately owned PCM (producer of a range of 'quality' newspapers) seems to be at risk, especially the paper after which 'De Pers' may have been modelled.

Still, I think 'De Pers' needs to expand some more to really have an impact: add a weekend edition; produce several editions a day (how about an evening edition delivered by email for workers to print out at the office and read on the train). I also believe an evening edition could be more worthwile for readers to bring home and share with family members.

Anyway, the focus on making a quality newspaper (for free, with expanded distribution) seems quite unique. Contrast that with this article, which states: "... that traditional newspapers will live or die based on the quality of their content -- an authoritative perspective that free papers cannot provide."

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