La Presse has announced the next step in its transition from a print publication to a digital one focused mainly on the tablet: It is ending its weekly Saturday print edition at the end of the year. The final issue will be Dec. 30.
La Presse president Pierre-Elliott Levasseur writes in a note published Thursday that the publication now gets 90 per cent of its advertising revenues from digital sources.
The end of the print edition, which comes only two years after it ceased publishing a print edition Mondays to Fridays, will affect 49 regular and temporary jobs, Levasseur writes. A buyout offer will be given to employees.
La Presse’s focus on the tablet has been curious to some, especially since tablet sales have slowed in recent years. But as Levasseur pointed out in a recent interview with InfoPresse, tablet penetration is still increasing.
Nevertheless, La Presse is working on a new mobile app to make the smartphone experience more engaging. No word on when such an app would be released.
The (former) newspaper famously spent $40 million on its tablet app, much of that going to research. It had hoped to recoup some of that cost with sales of its platform. But its only customer so far, the Toronto Star, isn’t having as much success with its tablet app (Levasseur suggests it’s because of the Star’s business model, which avoid cannibalizing one platform in favour of another). Levasseur tells InfoPresse that they have not been very proactive in getting other papers signed on to the platform.
La Presse has done what few in the print world are willing to do, which is accept that their inky days are passed, and they better run full on hard as they can with technology. This matched up nicely with the Pew Research report that shows that newspaper circulation has sunk back to the level of the 1940s, and continues to trend down HARD, losing half of the total circulation in 20 years. It’s unlikely to take another 20 to do that again.
La Presse has moved on, wholeheartedly and with total commitment. They have apparently found advertisers willing to do the same, and while they aren’t letting out the full numbers, it’s clear that its working well enough that they can cut their last connection with the past.
I do think you are correct that if they are stuck on a “tablet only” product that they may find themselves quickly hitting the wall. However, with the trend toward larger screen mobile devices (most phones are in the 5.5 to 6 inch range) there is plenty of real estate to work with there. Their mobile app would certainly go a long way to filling the gap, as would a web based version.
Demographics are running against print. According to Pew, 50% of people over 65 read a daily paper, while less than 15% of people under 25 do the same. The range in between is almost perfectly consistent with age, the older people are, the more they read newspapers. All categories are going down, but with younger people tuning out, print’s audience is effectively dying out over time. With life expectancy at 80 or so these days, print has about 15 years at most left in the sun before the vast majority of it’s readership will quite simply be dead.
Newspapers in the US and Canada have fought against this trend with little or no success. La Presse is a ray of sunshine in a very cloudy, stormy world. The demographics of this sort of thing have to be very interesting, it would be really cool to actually see where they are landing with this sort of thing.