by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
costs, free, news, subscriptions

london evening standard

In Going Free, London Evening Standard Doubles Circulation While Slashing Costs

from the but-free-doesn't-work!! dept

In October, we wrote about how, just as Rupert Murdoch and crew look to put up paywalls for online content, the operators of the London Evening Standard were going in the other direction and making their physical paper free. So, how's that been working out? mowgs alerts us to the news that the paper has doubled its circulation in just a month. Not bad. But what's more interesting is that it's also slashed its distribution costs massively. It used to cost about 30p, and now it's just 4p per paper.

This actually brings up a point that's rarely talked about in the free vs. paid debate. Charging can be expensive. It takes quite a bit of effort to charge, to take money, to manage the money, to set up the accounting and bureaucracy for managing each transaction. And, even worse, if you're working with third party distributors, like news agents, then you have to handle financial relationships with them as well. Getting rid of the per paper price changes the economics not just on the revenue side, but on the cost side as well -- something that's rarely discussed at all. And, yes, this impacts online news orgs too. Putting up a paywall is going to prove a lot more expensive than most people think on the cost side.

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  1. icon
    ranon (profile), 20 Nov 2009 @ 12:54am

    a few points

    With a free paper, how does one know that the paper is getting delivered to actual readers and not just ending up undelivered somewhere.

    The circulation numbers in such cases will be highly suspect and will affect the advertising business too.

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