A month after its launch and, despite good initial feedback, the New Day is lacking a vital ingredient for a newspaper’s survival – readers. As the paper loses traction after its initial sales estimates, does its distribution model need reworking?
In its launch week, Trinity Mirror indicated that circulation figures for the national newspaper were at 150,000, and it looked as if media buyers had a new title to add to print plans. However, the honeymoon period looks short lived, as circulation figures are rumoured to have dropped to just 40,000, just weeks after it first arrived on shelves. And, even though the paper has had difficulties attracting readers with a cover price of 25p, Trinity Mirror has stuck to its original plans to begin trading the paper at 50p after just a fortnight on the shelves.
We all acknowledge that print launches are difficult but several titles have managed to survive in the current climate, and they all have something in common. With the exception of the i, successful launches have carried no cover price, focusing on ad revenue to maintain profitability, and the i, whilst an anomaly, maintained a 20p cover price for over three years to allow it to build a loyal readership, before moving to 40p in January 2014.
The free model has had to develop as consumer behaviour has changed – with the emergence of free, instantly accessible content online, newspapers have to mimic this level of accessibility by being delivered directly to the hands of readers.
Despite copies of the New Day being handed out across the UK last week, the publisher remains loyal to its plans to have a cover price. In fact, its business model is dependent on sales, rather than on advertisers, in order to give consumers a newspaper with limited ad interference.
There is commercial sense in having a cover price – The Sun will sell just shy of £700k worth of newspapers today before an ad is sold. But The Sun can make this work thanks to its established readers, willing to pay 40p for the paper on a weekday. After a price rise last week, readers will now pay 70p on a Saturday and £1 for The Sun on Sunday, allowing the paper to generate £158m for weekend sales annually.
The New Day was launched as a print product for lapsed newspaper readers – those who have fallen out of the habit of buying a daily paper – so the challenge was always to change people’s behaviour and to get them back into newsagents. While it is still early days, this behavioural change is looking unlikely. So, whether this means giving the paper out for free or increasing the number of ad sites across its 40-pages, is it just a matter of time until The New Day sees a new dawn?