Has the London Evening Standard found a business model by going free? You betcha.
Yesterday’s issue was 88 pages. Today’s is a record-breaking 92 pages. Why? Because the adverts are rolling in. As editor Geordie Greig likes to joke, his paper isn’t so much free, it’s priceless.
No wonder its main owners, Alexander Lebedev and his son, Evgeny, are said to be very happy with the way things are heading.
Doubtless, the other (25%) shareholder, Associated Newspapers is pleased too (though also probably miffed at never taking the plunge itself when it had the chance).
It looks as though the Standard will be making profits next year. And we all know that Metro, the free morning distributed to cities across Britain by Associated, has been making money throughout the recession.
I never expected free to work this way. It may not work everywhere (London is unique) and what has certainly helped the Standard is its commitment to quality.
I defy anyone to tell the free Standard from the former 50p version in terms of the quality of the content.
Full disclosure: I am delighted to admit I write a media column for the Standard
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.