Next media will today close its free daily newspaper Sharp Daily, two years after entering Hong Kong’s uber competitive free newspaper market.
On an official statement from the company last Friday was short on detail, but said the closure was “in the best interests of the company and its shareholders as a whole.”
The decision to consolidate the group’s print operations in Hong Kong will enable the group to “rationalize resources and focus on its profitable operations,” the statement added.
Ting Yiu Lai, CEO of and chief editor of rival newspaper group Sing Tao News Corp told Marketing the shut down was “a wise move” adding it was “not a surprise”.
“Sharp Daily has been losing money since it was established. Without enough advertisers and low circulation, it is hard for them to maintain the business,” Lai said.
But above all, a lack of “healthy content” is the main reason for the failure, he said.
He said the free paper started off on the wrong foot due to negative content which is less appealing to Hong Kong people.
“They are running in a vicious circle. Without public support to attract advertisers, circulation as well as readership would naturally be restricted. It is a wise decision to close the paper.”
Nonetheless, Lai remains optimistic on free newspaper industry in Hong Kong.
“Data tells us the readership for free newspaper is growing faster then paid newspaper. Although technology development is hammering the overall newspaper industry, the impact is much bigger on paid newspaper than free newspaper. I think there is still a lot of space for free newspapers to develop,” he said.
Headline Daily today increased its circulation from 850,000 to 900,000 as there is “more space” in the market now since Sharp Daily is shut down.
Sharp Daily had a circulation of 900,000 when it first ventured into the market in 2011, but this fell to 500,000 in March, according to HKABC (1 January to 31 March 2013).
Next Media declined to comment.