BY CARMEN PONCIANO
As part of a new movement, Canada’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, announced on Nov. 5 that they will drop the digital paywall which restricts readers without a paid subscription from accessing the full site when they launch a digital tablet edition in the fall of 2015.
“This is an important strategic step forward for the Star and for Torstar as we commit to our future of cross-platform, a future that we recognize will be increasing mobile,” said David Holland, Torstar president and CEO, according to a Nov. 5 CBC article.
The Star is working with Montreal’s La Presse to develop a new tablet app for the Star. It will be based on the La Presse+ (La Presse’s tablet edition) platform technology of delivering news information in an interactive and intuitive environment by combining print, video, web and mobile. La Presse released its tablet edition back in 2013 and decided to go with an advertiser supportive model, in other words, advertising is what pays the bills. Since its launch it has had positive results, one of them being able to attract a younger audience.
“The new tablet edition will be a key element of our multiplatform evolution,” said John Cruickshank, publisher of the Toronto Star in an article in Marketwired on Nov. 5.
“We are encouraged and impressed by the reception of La Presse+, which has attracted a highly engaged younger audience.”
Readers of La Presse on average spend about 45 minutes a day on the tablet app and up to an hour on Saturdays, which is what the Toronto Star hopes to achieve as it will be investing around $15 million on making their tablet edition. Like many other newspapers across Canada, the Toronto Star has struggled with a decline in readership and advertising revenues which is why the tablet edition will be incorporated into the multiplatform family.
“The Internet is a great source for content but most people below a certain age don’t believe in paying for content,” said Paul Woods, executive editor of the Toronto Star. “You put up a paywall then your readership declines, and if you put it up for free, you’re not getting much revenue.”
However, despite this new movement, the Toronto Star will not be getting rid of its print edition any time soon. They will continue to support their large group of loyal print subscribers.
“But they are aging, they’re 57-year-olds and older,” Woods said. “We need to have a whole new generation of people who are now in their teens, their 20s and 30s who would want to come to us for content in a format that they are more comfortable with.”
So far La Presse and the Toronto Star are the only two Canadian newspapers to jump on the tablet edition bandwagon. However, it is a method that is becoming more popular in North America since some newspaper companies such as The New York Times and Washington Post also offer a tablet edition.