The life cycle of a free newspaper business model in newspaper-rich markets

Authors Piet Bakkker
Published in Journalistica
Publication date 2013
Research groups Quality Journalism in Digital Transition
Type Article


Free newspapers may offer different news contents to different audiences, when compared with traditional, paid-for newspapers, but they, nevertheless, concentrate on news, and thereby provide society with information on current affairs. These papers have seen circulation rise until 2008; after that, a decline set in, leading to closures and often a monopoly situation in the mature European newspaper markets covered in our research. Free newspapers seem to follow a typical life cycle pattern, moving from growth to maturity, and to saturation and decline. Diversification strategies – home-delivery, weekend, sports, afternoon, and financial – have been disappointing so far. There is no evidence, however, of total extinction, indicating that there is room for at least one title – possibly two – in every market. The situation in the surveyed markets also suggests that a free newspaper may be a ‘natural’ monopoly.

Language English
Published in Journalistica
Year and volume 2013 1
Page range 33-51

Quality journalism in Digital Transition