INNOVATION Consultant Michael Agar writes me this message from London, about an interesting comment from Peter Wilby in The Guardian under the headline Should Sundays be put out to grass?
When dailies are integrating their print and web operations into a seamless 24-hour whole, it is hard to see why the Sundays should remain inviolate – their combined circulations have fallen by 50%, nearly twice the rate of the dailies’ decline.
As the traditional British Sunday gradually disappeared, and the Saturday papers started multi-section packages of their own, they struggled to find a role.
In response, the upmarket Sundays in particular have constantly reinvented themselves, starting new sections, changing typefaces, switching editors.
Las Sunday, the Telegraph – which recently had three different editors in a year – appeared with a new typography and layout and a redrawn masthead.
A week earlier, the Independent on Sunday – on its eighth editor since it launched 17 years ago – had a more comprehensive makeover, under the slogan: “Everything you need on a Sunday, nothing you don’t.”
The condrum for Sunday press is that nothing much happens on a Saturday, bar football and most sport.
Most news stories are over-hyped and branded as extensive analysis.
Of the ‘quality’ market two of the Sunday newspapers are broadsheet and offer their readership more words than can be read on what is now one of the busiest days of the week for most families.
ABC figures show the Sunday Times is down -7.48% year on year, while the Sunday Telegraph at -3.14%.
The Berliner format Observer while offering readers medium length reads to full length and an attractive package is down -7.09%
Although the Independent on Sunday is also down -4.04% year on year it offers the reader what it says on the tin “Everything you need on a Sunday and nothing you don’t.”
Yet for all its faults, the IoS may prove ahead of the game, just as the daily Independent was in going tabloid.
The new format may not raise longterm circulation.
But it helps the paper live within its means and other Sunday papers will eventually face the same challenge.
You are right.
Sunday newspapers need to be reinvented.
And The Independent on Sunday is a bold move.
Our own experience with the new Sunday Eleftheros Tipos in Greece is another example with a massive increase in circulation.
In just the first three weeks, ET-K now sells more than three times the number of copies sold before INNOVATION’s changes.