They say that nature abhors a vacuum. And so it should come as no surprise that with last week’s demise of the top-selling, scandal-ridden Sunday newspaper News of the World, the reports are coming in of something to take its place — from NOTW’s owner News International, or from an arch competitor.
Today we discovered a new registration that belongs to NI. Sunday.co.uk already points directly to NOTW’s old home page, which is now being used to flog souvenir editions of the first and last issues of that paper.
The domain registrations that have been picked up by News International in the past week — they include sunonsunday.co.uk and thesunonsunday.co.uk — serve to confirm suspicions that launching a new Sunday tabloid is very much the company’s intention.
There have been reports of News International planning to consolidate its Sunday branding with a “Sun on Sunday” title from even before all the scandal news hit the fan. That intention has even been claimed as one of the reasons that it was so obvious and easy for News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) to axe NOTW when all the hacking allegations began to emerge and advertisers and the public turned away from the paper.
To be sure, some of the key assets from NOTW have been put into a holding pattern. As we were the first to report, the old NOTW supplement magazine, Fabulous, will be appearing in the Saturday edition of The Sun for the time being.
Now we are getting more detail on what could be in the works. An article in the Guardian reports that NI is sounding out advertisers about either a swift launch of a NOTW replacement, the Sun on Sunday, for the first week of August. That would be to coincide with the week before the football Premier League kicks off, when NOTW usually ran a bumper edition.
The alternative they are considering, according to the report, is to wait until September, when things cool off a bit, for a new launch.
But their decision might end up getting motivated by something more alarming — the spectre of a competitor picking up all those cut-loose subscribers.
Reuters is reporting that Associated Newspapers, owned by Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT) & General Trust (DMGT), is prepping a dummy copy of a Sunday paper for this weekend. If successful, it will go ahead with a full launch the week after.
Two names under consideration, it says, are The Sunday and The Sunday Lite.
The domains TheSunday.co.uk and The-Sunday.co.uk are currently registered to a UK entity, “Colin Wlson Engineering.” The domain is registered in Leeds, where there happens to be a Colin Wilson, who is listed on LinkedIn as an engineer. Another LinkedIn profile for a Colin Wilson, owner of Colin Wilson Engineering, appears to be in Southend.
In either case, the addresses themselves redirect to The Institute of Modern Love, a progressive rock band, who we have contacted to ask about this.
SundayLite.co.uk is registered to a UK resident called Simon Dooner.
The Daily Mail already publishes the Mail on Sunday, although this is aimed at the mid-market rather than the tabloid audience that NOTW courted. Its circulation in May way 1.9 million compared to NOTW’s 2.7 million for that month. Press Gazette reports that it will be increasing circulation by three million copies this weekend. Other Sundays are also thought to be upping their circulation.
The early nabbing of domain names by squatters or unassuming individuals is a tricky thing, but publishers always hold out hope of flipping addresses, as happened with sunonsunday.
It’s not always the case that owners are willing to give them up, though. Take another venture that News Corp might have wanted to pursue, Fox News in the UK. Here’s what you get when you visit that site: