Well, the company that defines itself as “primarily in the large, urban newspaper business” (CEO Paul Godfrey), has sold the Victoria Times Colonist, a large urban newspaper, to Glacier Media, along with 20 community newspapers. The communities are a bit of an odd sale; they actually are profitable, money machines. Godfrey says he wants to pay down debt; surely one of the best ways to do that is keep your profitable enterprises and use them to pay down debt. And another way is to sell/close your unprofitable enterprises, like the National Post. The Times Colonist is another matter. The paper was added to the sale “following failed attempts to have the paper’s union agree to cost-cutting measures.” Might be tough times ahead for the union, though given it is a monopoly newspaper, the TC should be a money-maker anyway for Glacier. Maybe this is a harbinger of things to come; the Postmedia selling off its profitable bits until it’s left with the National Post, which then has to shut down because there is nobody left to subsidize it. Just hoping…
The Globe reported yesterday (B2) that it’s readership was up significantly. After piercing through the self-congratulatory rhetoric, it turns out every major daily, even the lowly Suns, are up, as well as the National Post. The numbers:
Average weekday readership grew by 10.8 per cent to 709,000 in seven largest English language markets
National Post showed a 27.4 per cent increase to 361,500
On line readership at Globe (102. per cent, combined print and net) and Post (8 per cent) increased.
In vital Toronto market, Star inched ahead 0.3 per cent, Sun by 5.4 per cent, Globe by 16.9 per cent and Post 51.4 per cent! (is it possible that PostMedia’s strategy is working?) Final comment: Star is most boring newspaper in Canada; suits its suburban readers nicely. The new Globe is actually a great improvement; forget about keeping up with net and electronic media; concentrate more on opinion, backgrounders and features.
Reuters reports that the New York Times, which charges for access to its website beyond 20 hits a month is working. It has 100,000 new subscribers since it launched last month and is estimated to bring in annual revenues, desperately needed, of $26 million. Good thing too; its traditional ad revenue declined 7.5 per cent for a revenue drop of 4.4 per cent. So far, business newspapers like the Wall Street Journal or high quality broadsheet like the Times of London seem to be the only types of newspapers making money off web subscriptions. Wonder when the Globe and Mail will go to this model; as for PostMedia, it seems stuck in 1998 talking about convergence and web first, pushing people to its free website.
Sorry, no link until I figure out how I can cut and paste on the new “improved” Mozilla browser. Meanwhile, a Google News search New York Times gains online subscribers while print ads fall, will get you there. April 23 2011
Why is this important? Because it contrasts with the US reality of steadily declining readership, some dailies shuttered, others cutting back days of the week they come out. So the Globe and Star dominate Toronto, the “National” Post (which doesn’t distribute in six of ten provinces) hasn’t declined and is still losing money. Details below:
NADbank, March 30 2011
Just to verify what everyone knows, US newspaper advertising is in steady decline, reaching, in inflation-adjusted levels, the same amount as in 1962. That year, of course, the big tech news was that color TV was coming, even though the sets might costs as much as a good used car. The Newspaper Association of America came up with these numbers, noting that advertising, particularly want ads, were migrating to the much cheaper web. I doubt it would be different in Canada. The Sun chain is dying, propped up by Quebecor, and Postmedia today announced it is listed on the TSX, but has not offered its IPO, most likely on the grounds that no sensible investor would buy into this company unless it killed the money-sicking National Post first. Globe and Toronto Star continue to do well, particularly the Globe which in its latest incarnation is focused much more heavily on backgrounders and analysis than on breaking news, which it can’t compete with.
CTV, March 16 2011
The dailies and the weeklies have finally united to form one newspaper association: Newspapers Canada. It’s about time newspapers started to figure out how to work together to survive the vicious media market in Canada. And they have a great new website, http://www.newspaperscanada.ca that I think I’m going to link to.
Winnipeg Free Press, Jan. 4 2011
Marketing Magazine takes a look at recent circulation figures, and concludes that the great decline has at least stopped; most big city papers are holding steady, as we slowly come out of the Great Recession. Le Droit is down, but the rest are doing well. The Toronto Star, possibly the most boring newspaper on the planet, continues to lead, for inscrutable reasons, PostMedia is holding well, but the Sun chain lags every market. How long will it last, and will a right wing nut television channel save them?
Marking Magazine, via J-Source, Oct. 6 2010