Trinity Mirror planning to charge for specialist online content

August 3, 2009

As reported on Media Guardian, Trinity Mirror is planning several specialist sites – namely ‘MirrorFootball’ and a 3am.co.uk gossip site – for which it will charge online. Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror CEO, said that there was little point charging for news content when it was offered, and will continue to be offered, by the BBC were free. Similar sentiments were offered by Peter Morrell, Head of Multimedia at Media Wales, when Fee or Free spoke to him recently.

Bailey continued:

The next launches you’re seeing from Trinity Mirror are on August 6, MirrorFootball.co.uk, taking us in to an area where we do have unique content in the form of our archive, and developing an engaged audience who are passionate about that, that is more definable than a general news audience … thinking over time about how we might develop audience and what the pay model might be over time.

The Times has it’s crossword, the FT it’s financial reporting – what is the specialist content and tools offered by other papers? It appears the debate is shifting from charging for news, to charging for high quality, unique content and services that an outlet can offer.

Bailey’s latest comments come after a fall in profits at Trinity Mirror, though she also considered the industry to have hit the financial bottom of the advertising slump.

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Warnings on Media Profits

July 28, 2009

From the Media Guardian, warnings about the profits on UK media companies:

The past six months have seen the greatest number of media companies issue profit warnings since the dot com crash of 2001, according to Ernst & Young.

Rudberg pointed out that during the slump of 2001, 21 UK listed companies made profit warnings in the first half of that year – but the trend saw a “sharp increase” to a record level of 18 in the third quarter.

Ernst & Young concludes that the decrease in profit warnings between the first and second quarters this year is due to cautious financial forecasting by smaller AIM-listed media companies rather than a sign that the industry is stabilising.

“If anything the second-quarter 2009 profit warning figures suggest that the downturn has started to impact the larger listed media companies,” Rudberg said.

“In the 12 months to the end of March, 75% of the media companies that warned [on profits] were listed on AIM. [This compares] to the majority [of companies reporting profit warnings] being FTSE companies in the second quarter this year”.

The number of warnings being it’s highest for eight years only highlights the need for print media to find a new business model, whether they be small scale local papers or FTSE companies. Trinity Mirror’s declining advertising revenue plots a similar sense of urgency:

Trinity Mirror reported today that advertising revenue at its regional newspaper division fell by 36% year on year for the period to 26 April, with sectors such as recruitment and property advertising falling by more than 50%.

Overall Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mail and more than 140 regional newspapers, said that group advertising revenue declined by 30% year on year.

The regional division fell 37% in January and February and 35% in March and April. Display advertising was down 24% for the period, recruitment down 50%, property down 54% and automotive advertising down 35%.

Given that much of their advertising can now be placed online, and for free or virtually any cost, it is hardly surprising that classifieds are down by such a dramatic rate. When we talk of competition for newspapers, we no longer simply mean news websites, but those competing with their business: Craiglist being one frequently mentioned.