Free Toronto evening newspaper tonight has been acquired by Annex Business Media and will now publish weekly.
The three and a half year old publication will remain free, and distribute 102, 000 copies – the same daily circulation as before – each Thursday.
Publisher John Cameron said the decrease in print days will allow tonight to focus on its web content and eventually roll out more mobile apps. “Basically it comes down to where you want to put your resources,” said Cameron. “We know that things will transition more and more over to digital. Every paper will try and spin it a different way, but we all know people are getting news on their apps and on the web.”
Cameron noted that tonight‘s web traffic has roughly doubled since The Globe and Mail implemented a paywall last October, a boost that contributed to the decision to cut frequency. “People are looking for other places to go on the web now,” he said. “That showed us an opportunity.”
Cameron said he is not concerned about competing with other free Toronto weeklies such as Now and The Grid (which also both come out on Thursdays) because of how different their target demographics are (tonight‘s main competitor, according to Cameron, is Metro). The average tonight reader is 38 with an average annual household income of $86,000.
“A reader won’t see much change in terms of the freshness of news,” said Cameron. The editorial partnerships tonight has with Sportsnet, Financial Post and blogTO will stay in place, with the addition of lengthier features.
Cameron said the paper’s advertisers have seen the shift as a positive move, so much in fact that tonight is considering the possibility of putting out a second issue per week. “Our advertisers have taken the news well,” he said. “They know that many newspapers will need to make adjustments in the coming years. We still see a place for print, but newspapers cannot kid themselves – the old model will simply not work anymore.”
Because both tonight and Annex Business Media are private companies, Cameron was not able to disclose the amount paid by Annex Business Media in the acquisition.