Toronto Star to End Paywall, Spend $14 Million to Launch Free iPad Edition in 2015

The Toronto Star has announced it will be ending its short-lived digital paywall (launched in August 2013) and moving to a free tablet edition next year, taking full advantage of a new partnership with La Presse, which launched a successful free digital newspaper via Apple’s Newsstand at the cost of $40 million back in 2013. The move marks a shift in yet another media company’s business strategy as print ad revenues continue to decline.

According to The Globe and Mail, John Cruickshank, the Star Media Group’s publisher, said in a conference call to analysts La Presse’s “success in establishing deep engagement with a younger audience” was impressive.

The digital tablet edition will be built on La Presse’s existing technology implemented into its iPad app. Torstar Corp will invest $1-2 million in the fourth quarter of this year and an additional $10-12 million next year to build the digital newspaper. Once the tablet edition launches, the digital paywall will be removed.

The Toronto Star will see joint marketing with La Presse to bring more revenue via digital advertising. Currently, La Presse+ readership spends on average 45 minutes with the tablet edition every day, increasing to one hour on Saturdays. This time spent with the app is pretty amazing and is leveraged to advertisers looking for eyeballs.

From La Presse’s $40 million investment, $24 million was allocated on salaries to produce excellent content for its daily tablet edition and it has paid off. The Newsstand app in iTunes has 13,720 overall reviews, with 85% of those being 4.5 star ratings, which is incredible.

La Presse was able to create a viable iPad-only newspaper when others such as The Daily by U.S. media giant News Corp. failed; looks like The Toronto Star now wants a piece of that digital pie.

Click here to download La Presse+ in the App Store. Do you currently read La Presse+? How do you like it?

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