Evening Standard to go free from 12 October

LONDON - The London Evening Standard is to become a free newspaper from 12 October, with its circulation doubling from around 250,000 to 600,000 copies per day.

Evening Standard: going free
Evening Standard: going free

The Alexander Lebedev-controlled newspaper is turning to free distribution as it looks to revive its fortunes following the arrival of the London freesheets, the London Lite and the now defunct thelondonpaper.

Geordie Greig, editor of the paper, said: "This is an historic moment and a great opportunity for the London Evening Standard. Its owners will be funding the distribution of over 600,000 copies of the newspaper, making it available to more Londoners than ever before.  And most importantly this be a quality newspaper."

For several months, up to 50% Standard newspapers have been given out free at selected times in some areas of central London.

John Ryan, head of press at the media planning and buying agency Manning Gottlieb OMD, was not surprised by today’s announcement, believing the newspaper had been considering its options for some time.

He said: The announcement in August that News International’s free newspaper thelondonpaper was set to close probably provided the perfect catalyst."

He added that it will be interesting to see how the free Standard will be distributed, whether it sticks to using street vendors which adds a bit of gravitas and self-selection, or whether they opt for the cheaper bins like Metro.

The move also raises fresh questions about the long-term future of the London Lite, the free newspaper owned by Associated Newspapers, which has a 25% stake in the London Evening Standard.

Rate card advertising pages for the Standard are currently about a quarter more expensive than Associated’s London Lite, reflecting the premium advertisers place on the currently paid-for title.

Following today’s news, some agency traders expect the Standard’s cost per thousand (CPT) ad rate to come down.