After implementing an experimental mixture of online and print formats, accompanied by a limited delivery schedule, the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News have seen a rise in readership of their e-edition, as well as less subscription cancellations than expected, Poynter Online reported.
An assessment of the Detroit papers' experiment reveals some heartening results, including an approximate 6,300 readers who choose to pay more to have the paper mailed to their homes on days that have been cut from the delivery schedule, about 30,000 visits per day to the papers' e-editions and a mere 50 percent of the projected subscription losses that actually took place - with new subscriptions being filled at impressive rates.
These optimistic findings could prove valuable as newspapers struggle to decide how to maintain profitability while providing both print and online news sources. In an interview with Poynter's Bill Mitchell, the Detroit Media Partnership's Janet Hasson pointed out that attention to advertisers was crucial to the success of the transition from print to online content, saying the Detroit papers "will achieve the savings we projected (from reduced newsprint and delivery costs) and we will achieve the circulation that we're committed to...but advertising is the wild card."
In altering their home delivery schedule, the Free Press and News both took into account the fact that Thursday, Friday and Saturday papers are typically more important to advertisers and account for as much as 80 percent of revenue generated from ads; therefore, those editions continued to be delivered to subscribers' homes, according to Poynter.
The Detroit e-editions are published in PDF form, which allows users to print and e-mail articles. Readers of the online editions have expressed favourable impressions of the PDF format as opposed to ever-changing Web sites, which are constantly refreshing and adding content.
Hasson commented that while "20-somethings are impatient and go to the Web site" older audiences find the e-edition more accessible and well-organised.