Growth In a Shrinking Market: The Rise of the Free Daily Newspaper

Piet Bakker

At the start of the new century, the phenomenon was still in full force with more than 40 free dailies being published in 19 countries. By May 2005, this number has increased to 81 titles in 29 countries translating into a total circulation that has more than doubled from 8 million to 19 million in the short span of five years.

The most spectacular growth is in Canada and the southern part of Europe: Spain, Italy, and France. In Canada, circulation tripled between 2000 and 2005 while 20 percent of the total circulation consists now of free newspapers. In Spain, the share of free dailies has grown to 42 percent in 2005.

It is clear to see that free dailies can no longer be dismissed as a temporary fad. It has profoundly changed many newspaper markets and forced existing publishers into rethinking their business models. The free daily newspaper is not only here to stay, but is also likely to expand.