Jun 27th 2020SINCE 1785 a full English breakfast has been incomplete without a copy of the Times spread across the kitchen table. From June 29th Bri
SINCE 1785 a full English breakfast has been incomplete without a copy of the Times spread across the kitchen table. From June 29th Britons will have the option of listening rather than reading as they chew their bacon, as Times Radio begins to broadcast for 20 hours a day during the week and 19 at weekends. Listeners can expect “quality, expertise and warmth”, promises Stig Abell, fresh from a 4.30am start to record a pilot of his breakfast show. The commercial aim is to warm them up to subscribe to the newspaper.
As readers have become less willing to pay for news, papers have tried alternative formats. Until recently the main hope was video. Seeking advertising and prominence in Facebook’s news feed, papers piled into making short films. But video was “particularly unsuited to the way that journalists actually look”, says Claire Enders, a pitiless analyst. “Some of them did the most ridiculous turns.” The experience was unprofitable as well as humiliating: ad revenue was thin on the ground and Facebook changed its algorithm, no longer rewarding video publishers. The heralded “pivot to video” has since become journalistic shorthand for doom.
So the focus has shifted to audio. The success of the New York Times’s “The Daily” podcast, with 2m downloads every weekday, persuaded editors that audio is an effective way to fish for subscribers. Times…