Have London freesheets caused the demise of the Evening Standard Friday, January 16, 2009
Image by adambowie via FlickrI confess that I haven't bought an Evening Standard for easily more than a year. I was never a regular buyer, mainly because my evening commute was often devoted to reading my weekly copy of the Economist. However, because of the availability of instant news online, I now feel even less need to buy a copy.
At one time on the evening commute, many people would have a copy of the Evening Standard. Now it's a rarity to see anyone with a copy, despite news that the Standard's sales were rising. In my experience, the vast majority are looking at freesheets such as the London Paper and London Lite. Likewise the street vendors of the Standard no longer have the busy crush of commuters trying to snatch a copy but appear somewhat forelorn relicts of a past era, outmuscled by pushy freesheet distributors standing on every street corner.
Whilst the paper isn't closing, annual losses of £10m demonstrate that radical surgery will be required to re-invent the offering. Given the trite content of the freesheets, one hopes that the Standard can successfully use quality as its' point of differentiation and to justify its' paid-for status. However, I wonder if the free sheets are its' only competitor or whether online material has been equally to blame.