London: home of free paper-based mags

Time Out London goes free tomorrow, Tuesday.  The advertisers think 300,000 freely distributed in the core of London better than 55,000, and declining, paying for it.  The first free issue will be 80 pages, up from the normal 72 to give space for more ads.

Not that Time Out’s current website says so.

Time Out London is also continuing its strategy of the web for listings and bookings; apps for personalisation; and smartphone for people on the move.

Free works with consumer and location

The business model of giving it away is not new.  It has been tried, tested and proven successful as controlled circulation in the business market.  But this links the consumer market with locations.  Already a success with Sport, Shortlist and Stylist in London.  The survival of these titles in such a recession and with the pressure of digital media is the lure for Time Out London.

Down side: more pressure on the smaller mags

The down side is that smaller magazines may find it harder to survive.  You cannot go free if:

  • you don’t have the money for a big launch,
  • you are too niche, or
  • you don’t have a brand to get people to take it out of the hand of the distributor.


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