BR Video: Free Evening Standard changing readers' habits

LONDON - People are reading the Evening Standard more now it is free, but that doesn't mean they have stopped reading paid-for newspapers, according to members of the public interviewed in the latest BR Video.

Just over two weeks ago on Monday 12 October, the London Evening Standard dropped its 50p cover price and more than doubled its circulation to 600,000 copies, describing itself as the first quality newspaper to go free.

We interviewed people in central London late last week about the daily newspapers that they normally read, and asked those who didn't mention the Standard why they hadn't switched to it now it is free.

The three people who did mention the Standard were asked what difference the paper going free had made to them and whether they were reading it more or less.

All three said they were reading it more, with two of them saying they had started reading it since it had gone free.

"There wasn't that much point getting the Evening Standard when you had to pay for it and there were two free newspapers going around, but that's changed," said one man, who said he also reads The Guardian.

Another Standard reader, who said he reads The Sun, said he had switched from the London Lite now he didn't have to pay the 50p cover price for the Standard, which he said was "fantastic".

However, being free doesn't mean that the Standard will convert everyone, even those who respect it.

Illustrating this, a Times reader said he "probably would" switch to the Standard but "it's just a thing of picking one up".

He added: "I think if there was someone there handing one out I'd probably take one and read it because the Standard was always good but I think people stopped reading it because they could get the Lite or thelondonpaper, which we know now isn't produced, for free."

And free won't win over those tribal readers who cannot imagine a worse fate than getting the wrong paper. Alexander Lebedev's trophy asset got a kicking from both the left and the right, being described by a hardcore Guardian reader as "crap" and put down by a Telegraph reader as a "slightly poor" paper.

At least Lebedev can be reassured that no-one said they had stopped reading the Standard since it went free.