Toronto Star to invest $20 million in tablet edition using alfa Media technology

Toronto Star Building at One Yonge Street.
Toronto Star Building at One Yonge Street.

The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily circulation newspaper, is expected to launch a major tablet initiative this Fall. The newspaper will follow in the footsteps of Montreal’s La Presse+ news tablet app, which, at just two years old, is considered one of the best in the world. Its tablet design is much more engaging and above all, doesn’t try to imitate a printed newspaper. Using that strategy, La Presse+ has managed to broaden its audience and increase engagement with the new app that now accounts for an unprecedented 60% of the paper’s total ad revenue.

La Presse+ launched in April 2013 at an estimated $40 million and is continuing to attract new and younger readers. The result? A stunning 45% increase in readership with exceptional reader engagement. For example, an average of 44 minutes is spent in the app on weekdays, 73 minutes on Saturdays and 50 minutes on Sundays. La Presse is in the process of developing a similar digital tablet edition for The Toronto Star.

David Holland.
David Holland.

“We’re enthusiastic about the launch of the new tablet product at The Star scheduled for this Fall, and see this as integral to our commitment to the future of the brand across platforms,” said David Holland, President and CEO of Torstar Corporation. Operating costs of the launch are expected hit $9 million this year, with $13 to $15 million in capital spending predicted.

The groundbreaking app is part of Frankfurt-Germany-based alfa Media – a suite of software products marketed through its sister company, alfa CTP, which is based in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. MediaSuite has been hugely successful in Europe, where its format-independent approach has helped publishers redefine themselves across all modern media platforms. The system is defined by its flexibility – both in terms of its modularity and its ability to run either on local servers or in a cloud-based architecture. But more than that, it’s a system that allows publishers to maximize existing forms, while creating an environment for the development and presentation of new content with new target readers and advertisers across all media platforms. In short, its layout and content is much more engaging and interesting – especially for younger viewers who are used to receiving the bulk of their news and information on their tablets, computers or other devices.

“Newspaper and magazine publishers know that it can no longer be business as usual,” said Paul Norton, alfa CTP Systems Vice President of Sales and Marketing in North America. “They have to find creative ways to expand what they do, to both increase readership and drive new sources of advertising. Alfa’s strategy is to empower its customers to rebuild their brands and reassert their status as the pre-eminent voice of their communities,” he added.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.