More dailies erecting paywalls: Newspapers Canada

33 dailies began charging for online access last year

There’s a building boom across Canada’s daily newspaper industry, with publications erecting paywalls in an attempt to monetize online audiences.

According to Newspapers Canada’s 2013 Daily Newspaper Circulation Report, 13 publications erected a digital paywall in 2013, bringing the total number of papers charging for digital access to 33 (which is still less than a third of the country’s 112 daily papers).

Weekly digital-only circulation for Canada’s 112 daily newspapers was 5.8 million last year.

Paid and free circulation — including digital — stood at 5.6 million on a typical publishing day and 33.8 million copies over the course of a week, according to the report. Both categories declined from 2012, when the daily average stood at 6.01 million and weekly circulation was 35.9 million.

The country’s 93 paid dailies accounted for 4.2 million copies on an average publishing day and 26.6 million over the week, while the 19 free dailies accounted for 1.4 million copies on an average day and 7.2 million copies over the course of a week.

The report suggests growing adoption of paid digital access as publishers seek to replace dwindling print advertising revenue.

After first beginning to charge for online content in 2011, Toronto-based Postmedia extended its paid digital subscription model to all 10 of its daily newspapers in May. Print subscribers receive digital access to the website and tablet and smartphone apps as part of the All Access subscription, while non-subscribers can choose from packages including All Access, Digital Access or ePaper.

Gesca’s French-language daily La Presse, meanwhile, is wooing digital readers via its free La Presse+ product, which became an immediate hit upon launching in April 2013. La Presse’s daily digital circulation is 88,212, more than double that of the Toronto Star, while its weekly digital-only circulation of 535,782 is second only to The Globe and Mail. 

The Globe has the largest daily digital footprint in the country, with a weekday circulation of 123,185 and weekly circulation of 730,142—more than a third (34.1%) of its total weekly circulation of 2.13 million.

Several papers also experimented with augmented reality (AR), with Glacier Media leading a company-wide initiative with Layar to bring AR to its seven properties in B.C.’s lower mainland.

The free Layar app operates as image recognition software, invisibly tagging images, logos and icons with codes that enable the AR components to appear on a reader’s device when scanning content. Glacier is making “extensive” use of AR in both editorial and advertising content, according to the report.

In September, the Toronto Star partnered with Nissan Canada to produce a special edition that was enhanced by AR. Also using the Layar app, the initiative enabled smartphone and tablet users to watch videos, hear audio stories and view animated cartoons.

The 2013 Daily Newspaper Circulation Report calculates circulation based on Alliance for Audited Media (AAM), Canadian Media Circulation Audit (CMCA), CCAB and owner-provided data. CMCA and CCAB provide data based on a 12-month reporting period ending Dec. 31, while AAM data comes from two six-month “Snapshot” reports, ending March 31 and Sept. 30, averaged to provide a full-year picture.

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