The first free edition of the redesigned magazine will be available in the Autumn. The decision to give away the magazine is part of Time Out Group’s strategy to shift from being a publisher to an e-commerce business that makes most of its revenue from ticket sales. Paid-for-magazines such as Time Out have struggled with a slump in advertising revenues and increased competition from free magazines.
Time Out, which was founded in 1968 in London and publishes magazines in 37 cities worldwide, said it decided to make the London magazine free after its readers, people who didn’t read the magazine and advertisers, said they would welcome a quality free entertainment weekly for London.
Time Out faced increased competition in the capital last month with the launch of free listings magazine Scout.
Tim Arthur, editor-in-chief of Time Out said it expected circulation to leap from 50,000 now to more than 300,000.
Aksel van der Wal, the company’s CEO, said advertisers supported the move to a free magazine.
The free magazine will be distributed at London underground stations, arts venues, bars, cafes, boutiques and shops. All other Time Out magazines will remain paid for for now.
Last month, (13 July, Marketing Week) Paul Thompson, commercial director of Time Out Digital, said that the publisher was reviewing its business and indicated that Time Out UK could eventually cease publishing a print magazine, instead focusing on online, mobile and tablet devices.
At the time he said: “The way people compile and share information has changed and that has had a detrimental effect on Time Out. “It’s now very challenging to be that authoritative voice on going out. We’ve now gone from being ad-funded publisher to a business that has advertising and e-commerce revenue.
“We’re actively considering what to do with the magazine – [free London listings magazine] Scout has just launched and we’re now having to compete,” he said.
Time Out hopes to become largely funded by ticketing over the course of this year and is looking to acquire live venues so that it can provide an end to end entertainment business that creates and hosts events as well as sells tickets.
It also hopes to build its role as a ticketing business by creating a platform that allows smaller organisations to “self serve” online ticketing for the 280,000 events in London that are not yet served by ticketing firms.