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Sept. 16, 2015, 2:01 p.m.
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LINK: www.lapresse.ca  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   September 16, 2015

Quebec’s French-language newspaper La Presse is going totally digital on weekdays, the paper’s publisher Guy Crevier announced Wednesday: Starting on January 1, the Montreal-based pub will only offer a print edition on Saturdays. From Monday to Friday, readers will have to turn to the web or to La Presse+, the paper’s free (and successful) tablet app, for news. (La Presse does not publish a Sunday edition.)

“La Presse will become the first daily newspaper in the world to be 100 percent digital during the week,” Crevier said in a statement (translated). (Also, The Christian Science Monitor might beg to differ.)

The move wasn’t unexpected. La Presse’s digital circulation already trumps its print circulation: It had 453,957 weekly tablet readers as of April 2015, compared to print circulation of 105,000 on weekdays and 162,000 on Saturdays. Its website, Lapresse.ca, gets 2.4 million unique visitors a month, and the mobile version of the site gets 400,000 users a month.

La Presse now gets 60 percent of its ad revenue from tablets, with another 10 percent coming from web and 30 percent from print. It is also licensing its tablet app platform, with its first customer The Toronto Star launching its own tablet edition Tuesday.

Still, the move to digital-only weekdays holds the risk of losing some readers. As our Ken Doctor wrote in June:

How many of La Presse’s daily 100,000-plus print readers will convert to the tablet edition when print starts to go away? One number that complicates such a transition: Today, there’s only 6 percent weekly overlap among those who read print and the tablet. Still, if print is removed from the market, some La Presse execs believe that as many as 30 percent of print readers will make the journey fairly immediately, even though there’s so little overlap now. How about the other 70 percent? It sounds like hubris at first hearing, but the company is willing to let them go to make the digital transition.

To help transition those print readers over, La Presse has a webpage devoted to the tablet app.

Cutting print days is a strategy some have long pushed for newspapers, since most papers make much more on their flagship weekend editions (the Sunday paper in the United States) than on lower-selling weekday editions. Advance Publications has cut home delivery days at most of its papers, and Gannett is showing signs of beginning to do the same.

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