free toronto star

Toronto Star Free at Newsstands During Olympics

The Toronto Star has made a bold, competitive promotional move by making all of their newspapers in retail outlets and newspaper boxes free of charge for the duration of the Olympic games (Feb 13 - March 1).

Shopping for groceries at Loblaw last night, I found a sign at the newspaper stand that read "Toronto Star free while supplies last." It was just my luck that I arrived after supplies lasted. A stop at a Toronto Star box near home, which freely opened without coin deposit, also proved fruitless. I guess you've got to get there early to snag a copy each day.

Why hadn't I heard about this free newspaper giveaway until recently?

Apparently the promotion got ad air time on television and the radio, but having been away all last week, I didn't catch wind of it. Strangely enough, it's hard to find much about the promo online (with Google searches landing on various bargain hunter-type pages), but not on thestar.com itself, or on any of their Twitter feeds. Maybe they don't want to promote it too much.

The free paper giveaway will likely help the Star's readership number results in the next Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank) rankings, which will potentially make the paper more attractive to ad buyers. At first glance, giving away papers for free for two of 52 weeks of the year might seem like a losing strategy. But it has all the characteristics of a traditional loss leader.

As news online and on mobile devices continues to replace traditional print media, it would seem that print newspapers are willing to test new, risky, and even somewhat costly waters and try to retain or gain print subscription readership - even giving away newspapers at no charge for a string of two weeks.


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