Johnston Press predicts 'few daily print titles' by 2020


  • Johnston predicts digital audience will grow from 10m to 20m by 2020
  • 'Few daily print products' will remain by 2020
  • Price rises of 5p-25p expected on 165 titles this year

Johnston Press told investors this morning that it expects editorial content will be split fifty-fifty between journalists and 'community contributors'by 2020.

At present just 10 per cent of Johnston Press editorial content is created by readers and 90 per cent by journalists – but within nine years it expects readers and journalists to produce roughly the same level of content.

In its strategy presentation today the publisher predicted its digital audience will grow from its current level of 10m to 20m by 2020, while its print audience will shrink from 11m to 8m over the same period.

It expects 75 per cent of people will access its news content via digital products (mainly mobile) compared to 10 per cent at present, while print will drop from 90 per cent to 25 per cent of readership.

Johnston also predicted that by 2020 all of its titles will lead with 'digital first'and that 'few daily print products'will remain.

There will be fewer free papers and the number of subscriptions to its news titles is expected to rise from 3 per cent in 2011 to 50 per cent within nine years.

By 2020, it told investors, revenue will be split equally between digital and print. At the moment just 5 per cent of revenue comes from digital.

It also hopes to double its current profit margin (17 per cent of operating profit) by 2020 and increase turnover from £350m to £400m.

The group currently owns 18 paid-daily newspapers, 220 paid-weeklies, 30 free weeklies, seven magazines and 238 local websites.

Johnston said mobile will be key going forward. Citing the launch of the Scotsman app on 23 January, Johnston said there had been 10,000 downloads and 750 subscribers – but is targeting a 2,400 subscriptions within the next year.

At the moment 20 per cent of all visitors to Johnston Press websites come from mobile devices, but the company expects the rollout of more mobile sites as part of its relaunch to 'significantly increase mobile traffic"

It also revealed that 165 of titles that will be relaunched this year will see price increases ranging from 5p-25p, but insisted there 'no direct correlation between weekly newspaper circulation and cover price changes"

It told investors: 'The future of local media will however be very different in its delivery. It will be predominantly digital on a daily and hourly basis with most print editions being a weekly, in-depth, read. It will be much more of a partnership with the communities we serve."

It added: 'Building deeper relationships with our audience and advertisers will enable us to move beyond publishing and our traditional footprint into providing services that make the lives of our audiences and advertisers easier, more efficient, better informed, and more fun, whether they live in, commute to, or visit our communities."

Earlier today the company reporterd a pre-tax loss of £143.8m for the 2011 financial year as it wrote down the value of its publishing assets. On an underlying basis, operating profit fell 10.3 per cent to £64.6m on turnover down 6.1 per cent to £373.8m.

Yesterday Press Gazette reported on how the company was looking to create five different design templates to be rolled out across its portfolio of titles as it prepares to relaunch all 170 paid-for daily and weekly newspapers and news websites by the end of the year.

Today in it told investors this was expected to cost around £250,000.

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email


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