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Reach reveals further moves into rival territory after record month online

Reach squareA regional publisher has unveiled two further expansions into rival territory after achieving a record month online.

Reach plc is set to launch new brands in Chesterfield and Mansfield, following on from a number of similar launches which have been announced in recent months.

Both towns have been traditionally served by JPIMedia weeklies – the Chesterfield-based Derbyshire Times and the Mansfield Chad.

Reach last week announced it was launching dedicated websites under its ‘Live’ branding for Exeter, Torbay and Truro, while other areas earmarked for planned expansion in the near future include County Durham, Bolton, Bury, Newport, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire.

It has also invested in expansions of its new sites in Lancashire, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The announcement comes after the company revealed its regional titles experienced a record month online during January, recording more than 600 million page views for the first time.

Reach says this represents a 43pc year-on-year increase over January 2019.

The Manchester Evening News broke through the 100m page view mark for desktop and mobile traffic, while the Football Project – Reach’s combined network of football teams around the UK – topped 200m page views and Wales Online 50m page views for the first time.

David Higgerson, Reach plc’s chief audience officer, said: “We approach local journalism as a conversation with readers. We listen to readers when deciding what to write about, and build relationships so that we can say to readers ‘we think this is also important.’

“Our audience growth means we are reaching more people in our local towns and cities, on a daily basis, than at any point since the 1970s. That’s a huge success story that every one of our digital journalists should be proud of.”

Sites showing growth in overall page views of more than 100pc year-on-year included Berkshire Live, Lancs Live, Edinburgh Live, MyLondon, Football.London and Leeds Live.

Other notable increases include Kent Live, which was up 76pc, Cornwall Live, up 66%, Derbyshire Live, up 47pc, and Leicestershire Live, up 45pc.

According to Reach’s internal data, its top 10 sites for overall page views during January are as follows:

MEN – 109m page views
Liverpool Echo – 87m
Wales Online – 50m
BirminghamLive – 45m
Football.London – 37m
Chronicle Live – 44m
Bristol Live – 20m
Hull Live – 19m
Nottinghamshire Live – 18m
Derbyshire Live 17m


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  • February 18, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    But, Reach, what big numbers you have.
    Slightly confused by the ever changing quantitative metrics being used – browsers was always an interesting one but difficult to reconcile when compared against the adult population, in the sense it gave the impression nearly everyone in the UK was was visiting a Reach site.
    Page views without context are meaningless, we just know that there are more of them than last year. The MEN had 109m PV’s in Jan, it’s a big number, but so what….. 109m browsers having a single look see, or 1 very busy browser?
    Without some additional qualitative data and context it’s impossible to gauge the intrinsic value of a page view.
    Reach will hopefully grasp the opportunity to offer far greater clarity around their digital KPI’s.

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  • February 18, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Archant move in on JPI in Peterborough then they take on Reach in Torbay, now Reach are opening up on JPI heartlands
    Open season between the main groups and the also rans as they go toe to toe for territories
    I doubt there’s room for all with other hyper local publishers also in the mix so expect some fall out with the ones producing the best quality and most engaging content to succeed
    Interesting times

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  • February 19, 2020 at 9:58 am

    It will be interesting to see how these developments work out. We now know most of the JPI papers along with other publisher titles, are slowly dying and are unsaleable. Reach has decided JPI is ripe for attack and is taking the company on through online competition in its heartlands, using the profits from its own failing print titles to invest in digital. Soon, print advertisers will realise they aren’t reaching their audiences and those profits will disappear by which time digital has to have been monetised. Whatever happens journalism is the loser as the future is about digital staff mixing and matching available content which is a much speedier production process than good quality journalism.

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  • February 19, 2020 at 10:38 am

    And the elephant in the room, of course, is now all these page views are being translated into commercial revenue (or not, as the case may be).

    It’s good to know that digital journalism is attracting readers after all the money thrown at it, but if Reach isn’t making the sort of money from it that it is making from print ads, then the long-term future of the company is surely in doubt. Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

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  • February 19, 2020 at 11:07 am

    The problem for Reach and all the other Big News organisations is that they need profits to pay dividends and an unwieldy infrastructure, that no longer works in the new digital landscape.

    It’s all very well blaming the likes of Google and social media, the reality is that local news would have been in trouble anyway.

    For a start look at the state of local newspapers even before the Web 2.0, they were dire and living off their monopolies.

    The problems have only got worse because the management promoted its brightest talent, only to make it redundant as a cost saving measure.

    Too often those that survived were the unimaginative yes men and women, who are left to clean up the mess. It is never going to work.

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  • February 20, 2020 at 11:26 am

    As The Red Postman, and others, rightly point out, where is the mention of Income from all these wonderful page views – the information is again pointedly absent. With newspaper circulation figures you at least know how much you are making per copy sold.

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  • February 20, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    I can’t help thinking the digital bubble may have burst and some content chiefs, commercial heads and board members may have finally realised its virtually impossible to make enough money from online ads or subscriptions to sustain ailing businesses any longer.
    With Archant opening a new weekly paper in Torbay and the many independent community newspaper publishers capturing the markets and making decent livings from print, only using websites as necessary add ons, it could be times been called on pinning everyone’s hopes on monetising digital news sites to fund large scale operations in the future.
    Groups have been trying to draw revenue from online news for around twenty years now with very little success and other than shouting about the number of people looking at their free to view content it’s been an absolute dead duck, just ask the poor souls tasked with trying to sell it not just at Reach but at all the other regional centres too.

    Perhaps the realisation that despite millions of people clicking on for free, not enough will pay to access content behind a paywall or via subscription and the fact that very few businesses are interested enough to spend money to advertise themselves on local publisher websites is finally hitting home.

    It’s all very well having millions of people looking in your shop window but if they’re not being converted into worthwhile sales the figures being bandied about are absolutely worthless.

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  • February 20, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    Every time Google visits a page to index it, this counts as a page view.

    Also, people on the other side of the world who click on a link will visit the page but bail out in seconds.

    Be good to read about how long people stay on each page. Long enough to read the quality journalism displayed thereon?

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  • February 21, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Hello Beancounter. I think your point is about loyalty. We track page view growth among loyal readers as well as the headline numbers and we can see that loyal growth rising faster in many areas than headline growth. We did put this in the press release but it didn’t make the cut on here sadly.

    As a plc, the company wouldn’t be pursuing digital growth if it wasn’t financially worthwhile. The more people read stories, the money money earned to support journalism in a sustainable way. The idea that Phillip floats of people looking at your shop window but not buying doesn’t work in this context as revenue is earned when the person looks at a page.

    Hopefully the fact we are recruiting more than 50 new journalists and launching new brands while investing in others points to the fact that digital does make the money to sustain journalism.

    What always appears to be lacking in these discussions on here is what alternatives you’d realistically put forward….

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