The Irish edition of the Sunday Times will be available on a new tablet app from this weekend and editor Frank Fitzgibbon admits he is "quite pleased" to have a proper digital home for the Dublin- produced content.
“A lot of people out there just don’t buy any newspaper any more and if it’s not on a tablet, they just don’t read it,” he says.
For this print-shunning constituency, there is now a Sunday Times Ireland app for both iPad and Android devices, priced at €2.69 for a single edition (compared to €2.80 for a print copy).
The app, which is also available via a monthly subscription for €9.99, is a pdf replica of the newspaper and its eight supplements as they are sold in Ireland, rather than a retooling of its content for the tablet format.
Parent company News UK sells an interactive seven-day app for the UK editions of the Times and the Sunday Times, with added video and graphics.
“We didn’t fit into that template obviously because it’s very expensive to do an app just one day a week on the scale that they are doing it [in the UK],” says Fitzgibbon.
Irish news and features are "just a bit smothered" on the hard-paywalled Sunday Times website, meanwhile, rendering it "too difficult to access the Irish content" online.
The site attracts a low number of visitors from the Republic and it was “never really promoted” by the newspaper.
The Sunday Times had a circulation of 92,643 in Ireland in the second half of last year.
That was down 8 per cent year-on-year and down 19 per cent over a four-year period.
Although the new app is expected to cater for digital consumers that were otherwise lost to the title, its availability may also have a cannibalising effect on print sales.
“I think if your digital version takes off, inevitably there will be a trade-off with physical sales,” Fitzgibbon says. It is “reasonable” for titles to add their digital sales to their physical sales for a total circulation figure, he believes.
After four years marked by retrenchment, the Irish operation of the Sunday Times, which employs 27 people, is in "steady as she goes" mode, Fitzgibbon says, neither expanding nor currently seeking further cuts.