Newspapers go to Rio for growth and discovery

Everyone knows the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) can be great growth engines. Now western news publishers are setting their sights on Latin America.

  • The New York Times says it will launch a Portuguese-language edition of its website in 2013, containing translations of its English articles and original local material – all in all, 30 to 40 articles per day.
  • This comes two weeks after the Financial Times said it, too, will launch a Latin American edition in print as well as web and mobile app.

Each of the titles already has several national editions around the world. The FT has operated since 2005, whilst NYT launched in beta this June, due to launch fully in November.

Mashable: “Unlike the U.S. edition, which introduced a metered paywall plan in March 2011, readers of the Chinese and Portuguese editions do not need a digital subscription for full web access, a Times spokesperson told Mashable.”

Often, when analogue companies go global it is with digital products – for example, Netflix and Lovefilm are taking streaming but not DVDs to new territories. But emerging markets are still experiencing analogue growth.

Newspaper circulation grew 3.3 percent last year in Latin America, at a time when it shrunk by 4.3 percent in the United States and 3.4 percent in Europe, according to the World Association of Newspapers.

In the next few years, Brazil will host the Summer Olympics and soccer World Cup.

So the Financial Times is opening a new “digital newspaper print site” in São Paulo, Brazil – something CEO John Ridding said “underscores our belief in a healthy future for print”.

What we are about to see, in the FT‘s case, is a patchwork strategy of low-cost print-and-digital launches in emerging markets alongside eventual tactical retreat of print in large western cities, as the publisher approaches a print-to-digital tipping point there.

In NYT‘s case, it is telling that, whilst NYT Co. already operates International Herald Tribune as its international edition, new launches are coming under the “New York Times” banner.