So, the empire strikes back! Just when his back was against the wall, the old devil finds his elixir and comes out all guns blazing. What chutzpah!
Yes, for those of you that haven’t heard, there is a ‘new’ Sunday tabloid in town (although how ‘new’ is probably up for debate). Media oligarch Murdoch has given an octogenarian’s last throw of the dice in what’s been a turbulent 12 months and announced the Sun’s highly anticipated Sabbath day edition. News Corps’ Sunday saviour will be hot off the press this weekend.
It might be worth comparing at this point, Murdoch’s bullish announcement that the Sunday Sun was on its way with that doddery appearance before the select committee last July. But alas, this is just an aside and I shan’t begin to assess Murdoch’s flourishing acting career. The real issue at hand is will the Sun on Sunday be the rip-roaring success it is being hyped up to be?
Inspecting the numbers, probably yes. It would appear that the News of the World's demise weakened the market overall. Of the News of the World's 2.67m sales, 1.3m simply disappeared. Half the rest went to the Sunday Mirror; the rest were split between the Daily Star Sunday and the People. Initial gains by the Mail on Sunday were rubbed out, although the Sunday Express made a little progress. Clearly media tycoon Murdoch has seen an opportunity to regain market leadership.
On the other hand however, and I could be wrong here, I’d imagine that a lot of the NOTW’s readers also turned more predominantly to online – real-time gossip from the glittering twitterati perhaps? It’s not just an online liberal coffeehouse you know! Similarly, the MailOnline hasn’t been doing too badly either.
Still, based on the numbers, the Sun’s promotional power and Murdoch’s resilient, death defying nature, I’d expect the Sun on Sunday to do rather well. There are more long-term issues at hand of course, like the growing revenue threat of social media and online news, and also the very necessary decontamination of News Corps’ brands.
As a PR person, I welcome the news of a Sun on Sunday and hopefully a revived Sunday newspaper market, but how long will it last in this form? When will social news become a genuine threat to traditional media’s revenue stream? I might be inclined to argue that it already is. As far as I can see, Twitter may not have pointless helpings of page three nudity, but this can be sourced elsewhere on the net, as Charlie Broker remarked last week, “on pages three to three billion and three.”
This all leaves me thinking; in the long-term, will the Sun on Sunday not just be a bit outdated?