Torstar Hopeful Tablet App Connects With Younger Audience

Challenging environment of declining print advertising revenue
March 4, 2015 Updated: March 4, 2015

TORONTO—Torstar Corp. is hopeful its new tablet app will help young readers connect with the Toronto Star’s brand, as the country’s largest newspaper struggles with declining print advertising revenue.

“We remain confident in our expectation that the new tablet application will significantly broaden our reach and engage a younger audience in a unique environment that advertisers will value,” publisher John Cruickshank told investors during a conference call Wednesday, March 4.

Cruickshank said the app, which the newspaper is developing with the help of Montreal’s La Presse newspaper, is on track to launch this fall.

The Toronto Star was encouraged by the Quebec publisher’s success with developing its own tablet addition, La Presse+, a process that cost $40 million and took over two years. The French-language newspaper says its app, which launched in 2013, has attracted a younger audience that use it for an average of 45 minutes per day.

“Their experience is they’ve managed to broaden their audience base and certainly increase engagement and that’s our goal,” said Torstar president and chief executive David Holland.

The comments came as Torstar reported a fourth-quarter profit attributable to shareholders of $20.6 million, or 26 cents per share, compared with a profit of $21.1 million or 26 cents per diluted share a year ago.

The newspaper publisher said segmented revenue was $244.9 million, down $26.6 million or 9.8 percent from the same year-earlier period, mostly reflecting lower print advertising revenue.

Holland noted that the company “continued to feel the effects of a challenging print advertising environment.”