Suddenly, the economics of free don’t look so rosy. Thelondonpaper, the freesheet Rupert Murdoch’s News International started in 2006, made £8 million revenue in its first year – but lost £16.5 million overall, according to new figures at Companies House (via BrandRepublic). Doing the sums, that’s just over £30,000 income per edition. “The results … state that the next financial year will reflect the positive impact of higher advertising yields.”
NI’s launch quickly met competition in ’06 when DMGT unveiled London Lite as a spoiler. Both lightweight freesheets are well read by commuters who have copies thrust in their hand by rival sales folk. Coupled with the nationwide expansion of Metro, that has prompted some commentators to wonder if the future of newspapers doesn’t look a little like the emerging web model – free and ad-supported. Thelondonpaper’s first figures may suggest otherwise but they do come in a year that incurred setup costs. What chance, however, if we’re heading for an advertising recession?