The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News are completely changing their business model, including only delivering print copies on Thursday, Fridays and Sundays.
In an interesting article a friend e-mailed me, Poynter Online’s Rich Edmonds discusses the pros and cons of the move. Mainly, the pluses are that it ad revenue might not be too jeopardized by the move.
Spending on paper, delivery and staffing the press room and newsroom all will come down. If those savings exceed the loss of advertising and circulation revenue, the move will be successful.A couple of factors tilt the odds in favor of such success. All days of the week are not created equal in advertising revenue. A typical metro books as much as 50 percent of total ad revenue on Sundays and the majority of the rest on a day or two near the end of the week when readers plan recreational activities and shopping. [Emphasis added]
The perils of the strategy are more subtle. I wonder whether it will spur print advertisers to thinking, “If they don’t think it’s worth publishing every day, maybe we should re-evaluate what we are spending in the newspaper.”But what of the loyal seven-day subscriber? The move essentially says, “We know you like to have a paper every day, but we cannot afford to give you one that frequently.” Telling readers they do not need a paper every day strikes critics of the strategy as a classic slippery slope, driving them to online alternatives that may or may not include heavy attention to the paper’s own Web site.