Maintaining Standards – when free does not mean cheap.

This has been the first full week of the London Evening Standard being given away for free. As well as moving to a ‘free-to-the-consumer model’ they have increased the print run from around 300,000 to over 600,000. The logic being that what they lose in cover price they more than make up for in ad revenue.

In tandem they seem to be trying to establish a more premium distribution network (the late London Paper and the still running, but awful, London Lite relied upon brightly garbed and aggressive ‘pushers’ who would clog the sidewalk and tube entrances jockeying for position and shoving newspapers into the hands of the unwilling). I get my copy INSIDE Tescos. It’s still free but I have to step inside the store to retrieve it. Walking past all the Tesco offers etc – so you see what’s happening there ! Seemingly there is some payment by retailers for this privilege. There is also talk of pushing distribution points into the prosperous suburbs.

So far so good. The newspaper is as fat as ever, supplements and magazines continue and there are hopeful signs that the quality of editorial content will continue. There seems to be less discarded newspapers on the tube trains. I suspect that since the Evening Standard has a greater perceived value with higher equity it actually makes it all the way home rather than being tossed aside after a scan between tube stations, mine usually makes it all the way to bedside ! As long as the Evening Standard maintains it’s equity this should continue.

The only downside is the disappearance of the Evening Standard street vendors who were very much part of the fabric of London.


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