Supported on the one hand by the digital kiosks of the telephone operators, and on the other hand by intense news coverage and efforts on exclusive content, several national titles are improving their sales, an improvement in a period that remains difficult for the press.
Sales of the national dailies have risen almost continuously during the first three quarters of the year, according to figures published by the ACPM-OJD, which has just released September’s data.
In September, the national daily press (now in France, La Croix, les Echos, L’ Equipe, Le Figaro, Libération, Le Monde) saw its circulation increase by an average of 1.50% compared to September 2016.
In detail, five newspapers recorded increases in circulation: Le Monde (+6.55% to 284,431 copies), Le Figaro (+3.18% to 304,591 copies), L’ Equipe (+3.15% to 247,877 copies), Libération (+0.89% to 73,354 copies) and Les Echos (+0.06% to 129,431 copies).
On the other hand, La Croix (-3.33% to 89,118 copies) and Today in France (-10.16% to 120,373 copies) saw their circulation decline, as did Le Parisien (-3.13%, 200,379 copies).
We’ve been on a positive trend for several months now,”points out Philippe Rincé, general manager of the ACPM-OJD,”an increase that can be explained by two factors:”a year of strong news” and “the shift from print to digital, with a standard bearer that is Le Monde”.
In September, the evening paper sold an average of 120,916 digital copies every day (subscription or sale of exclusively digital copies). The group is expected to end the year with 160,000 purely digital subscribers, said CEO Louis Dreyfus at Stratégies magazine, without specifying the current number.
– Takeoff –
“Today we have titles, notably Monde, Le Figaro, Les Echos and L’ Equipe which took off on the digital scene. With very attractive rates, they are able to recruit new, purely digital subscribers,”emphasizes Philippe Rincé.
This phenomenon was accentuated by the kiosks of telephone operators,”particularly SFR Presse, which gave new readers the opportunity to access the national daily press,”he continued.
The optional SFR Presse application, offered as an option and included in several SFR packages, gives access to 80 titles, including Le Figaro and Libération. More recently, Bouygues Télécom and Orange launched similar offers.
Sales of “digital versions by third parties”, where the number of newspapers downloaded via these applications are recorded, posted impressive growth for September: +145% for Libération, +100% for L’ Equipe, +50% for Le Figaro.
However, the model is far from unanimous: at the end of October, the founder of Free and shareholder of Le Monde Xavier Niel compared the service to “a VAT scam”, deploring that “making the press free is destroying it”, in the Clique program on Canal+.
Both the print and digital press benefit from a reduced VAT rate, which is passed on to the operators offering this service. An opportunity that the law could take away.
Alain Weill, who has just been appointed CEO of SFR, defended a model that will explode “and could” change the distribution model of the press “in front of the Paris Audiovisual Club. He also assured Stratégies that SFR will have made it possible to pay 50 million euros to press publishers in early 2018.
“It is an important element but it is also a very young one, we will have to look at whether the use is taking place. If it takes hold, we can have a major growth driver ahead of us,”emphasizes Philippe Rincé.
However, digital technology is more difficult to monetize than paper.
Le Monde, which has decided not to participate in digital kiosks, ensures that Lemonde. fr is the group’s most profitable activity, according to Louis Dreyfus, which highlights the “investments made in editorial writing” and “exclusive content”.
The survey by the Paradise Papers has thus enabled Le Monde website to almost triple its digital subscribers this week compared to a normal week.