Trinity Mirror’s national news wing is set to start charging for some content this autumn, to arrest falling digital revenue.
CEO Sly Bailey told City analysts: “Expect significant developments to the Mirror.co.uk and MirrorFootball.co.uk sites in the fourth quarter. The MirrorFootball app will move to a freemium model.”
The soccer site’s mobile app will be free to download but “revenue will be driven from content not just advertising i.e. charge for SMS alert on goals scored or transfer news”. With this, the publisher aims to reach a larger worldwide audience.
Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) recently reorganised Mirror Group’s digital activities under new digital MD Chris Ellis.
Mirror Group Digital’s revenue is falling because users of one of its main cash cows, MirrorBingo, are leaving for the growing range of bingo sites. But the publisher’s audience for online content is growing – up 28 percent from last year to 14 million in June.
But half-year group-wide digital revenue is up 4.4 percent, thanks to the addition of the acquired GMG Regional Media sites.
MirrorFootball already £0.69 ($1.12) charges for a handful of apps aimed at fans of particular clubs.
Trinity Mirror’s half-year operating profit plummeted by two thirds to £28.9 ($46.67) million, on three percent lower revenue of £371 ($599.18) million, after advertising crashed by 11 percent.
“These are challenging times. The trading environment has been much weaker than expected,” Bailey said.
In the wake of News International’s phone “hacking” scandal, Bailey announced a review of Trinity Mirror’s editorial procedures…
“The Company has sought and received formal written confirmation from senior editorial executives across both the Nationals and Regionals, that since the commencement of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in October 2000 and whilst an employee of the Group they have not nor, to their knowledge, have any of their staff or anyone on their behalf, intercepted any telephone messages, made payments to serving police officers or accessed the police national computer.”
But Bailey said she had no powers to question former employees like Piers Morgan, who has made his own denials, and she was not immediately sure how many staff had given assurances.