January 18, 2016 | Lucy Tozer
After declines in circulation and advertising revenue in recent years, digital platforms were fundamental in the survival strategy for Canadian broadsheets in 2015.
Montreal’s French-language paper, La Presse, is a prime example of the success of digital. La Presse announced back in September that it will end its weekday print editions in 2016 and pin its hopes on the successful tablet edition of La Presse+. The publication, which is 131 years old, cut 158 jobs last year and has now made the print edition available on Saturdays only. The free tablet app has over double the number of readers of the print edition and reaches more than 450,000 readers each week.
Many publications in Canada have also implemented paywalls to generate revenue but this has seen varying degrees of success. Papers such as the Globe and Mail chose to stick with paywalls whereas the Toronto Star dropped them in favour of a free tablet app, Star Touch. The app was inspired by the success of La Presse+ and cost between $10million and $12million.
The Globe and Mail also revamped their tablet app in May 2015 in an effort to expand its reach to iPhone users. The Globe chose to stick with a paywall but allows access to 10 free articles a month before prompting users to subscribe.
2015 was clearly a successful year for the digital newspaper frontier in Canada and we hope to see further developments in 2016!