Interview with Piet Bakker on free dailies in 2007
Piet Bakker, associate professor at the University of Amsterdam / Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)
newspaper techniques: You have been tracking free daily newspapers for some years now. Does their ongoing growth rate (22 million copies a day this time last year and 30 million now) surprise you at all?
Piet Bakker: In fact, we are approaching 35 million now and probably will reach that in December. The growth in 2006 indeed was spectacular, not only in new markets but actually the most growth seemed to be in markets with already a substantial market share of free papers. Economic recovery and decreasing circulation of paid newspapers are possible drivers for this development, although there also seems to reach some sort of saturation level.
nt: Where do you expect the free newspaper situation to be one year from now in terms of millions of copies per day? Do you think the growth rate will continue as it has the past few years, or will it begin to flatten / level off?
P. Bakker: Flattening out is the most obvious prediction if the model does not expand to other markets. But if Germany, China, India, Norway, Japan, Eastern Europe and Russia are added another substantial growth is possible. But launches are still expected for Italy, the Netherlands and France. So still growth but not with the same rate as in 2006 -
nt: If you do not see growth flattening / levelling off in 2007, how far into the future do you think this might happen? In three years, five, or more?
P. Bakker: Growth will probably continue, as newspapers are still a valued advertising medium, and the amount of people not reached by paid papers decreases, more expensive distribution methods (door-
nt: Lastly, at the end of 2005 you told me that your Free Daily Newspapers website (http://users.fmg.uva.nl/
pbakker/freedailies) was receiving more than 100 visits daily and that you had 260 subscribers to the newsletter. What are these numbers like today?
P. Bakker: Also substantial growth here, 200 to 300 visits a day and 500 subscribers.
Piet Bakker is an associate professor for the Department of Communications at the University of Amsterdam / Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR), where he has worked since 1985. He started the Free Daily Newspaper website in August 2004.
This interview was conducted by newspaper techniques Senior Editor Brian Veseling.
Page first published: 10.12.2006