Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Washington Post A success story

On October and for the first time, the digital audience of the Washington Post was larger than the NY Times. It is an impressive success for the gray lady is a toughcompetitor and has been active and dynamic for many years in the digital field. However, its results are mixed. The third quarter figures for 2015 showed that the NYT could not stop the fall of ads in its print edition and in spite of an audience of 1 million subscribers, its digital site cannot make for the losses in print advertising. Also, the Facebook offer of advanced articles that was supposed to provide new ad incomes for the newspapers does not work as well as it was supposed to do. It seems to cannibalize the audience of the legacy media websites without carrying much new profit.

As far as the Washpost is concerned, it appears that the sale to Jeff Bezos was a smart move from the Graham family. Contrary to what many people, including myself feared, the Amazon owner has played his part very successfully. He has stopped the flow of departures from the newsroom and hired a huge team of technicians to improve the web operations. He has also approved a very aggressive marketing policy, offering very chap subscription rates to the digital users in order to attract a large new population.

Still, these two major newspapers face now another challenge which has been met already by several pure players like the Huffington Post, Politico or Buzzfeed: how to keep growing. The only way is to look to Europe and Asia wher there is a large English speaking population. One can bet that Bezos will work at it thanks to his world Amazon network.

A last question. What is doing France's Bezos, i.e. Niel coowner of le Monde? it's time he works on the newspaper's digital strategy.