Has the Twin Cities seen the last of the 25-cent daily newspaper? The Pioneer Press, which has held its single-copy price to a quarter even as the Star Tribune hit 75 cents, quietly raised the tab to 50 cents Monday.
The hike covers the PiPress’s core counties of Ramsey, Washington and Dakota. Readers elsewhere have paid 50 cents in recent years.
PiPress management limited its comments to confirming the price rise and date.
For the St. Paul paper, market penetration in the three counties is a big deal; even though it does not deliver metro-wide, it’s the circ champ in its core area, and buyers still willing to pay for print want mass in a mass medium. Keeping the single-copy price low presumably helped keep sales up.
However, in the face of a continued print advertising decline, media companies desperately want consumers to pay more. Pioneer Press owner MediaNews Group has experimented with online paywalls in a few markets, but raising print prices is the old-school way to seek more cash.
According to September 2010 Audit Bureau of Circulations data, the PiPress sells about 20,000 weekday individual single copies out of 185,000 total circulation.
It’s not easy to tell how many of those 20,000 are sold in the three core counties. If 15,000 readers ponied up 25 cents more six days a week for a year, the Pioneer Press would gross about $1.2 million annually. However, it’s unknown how many current purchasers will revolt at the price, and each walk-away reduces the gain.
Even if fully realized, a million or so bucks won’t change whatever trajectory the Pioneer Press is on, but these days, every penny matters.
[Hat tip: R.W. Keep the tips coming, readers.]