The first newspaper. And also the first sport newspaper, both in Italy and Spain. It is the summary of two centennial publishers, and it has chosen the web paywall, a path followed by very few competitors
To ensure Rcs, the publishing group chaired by Maurizio Costa, once again receives the attention it deserves as a European leader, including on the financial markets. And this is the cornerstone of the 2016-2018 business plan launched on 21 December by the company, which publishes several newspapers, including the Corriere della Sera. The plan sets out three core goals: ensuring financial and economic sustainability over the short- and long-term; obtaining maximum value from the Group’s assets, including through a radical overhaul of the business and laying solid foundations for a new era of growth. This is an ambitious but pragmatic business plan, based on the determination and resolve of the new Chief Executive Officer, Laura Cioli, appointed in November, and eight key measures already being implemented.
To start with, a dramatic reduction in costs without affecting investment and quality. The second point is a stabilisation of revenue and margins from publishing products, through an integration of press, web and mobile, thus going «beyond digital», following in the footsteps of certain successful projects already carried out in Spain involving two of the Group’s dailies: El Mundo and Expansión. Hence the decision (a first for a daily newspaper in Italy) to launch the new digital, paid service for the Corriere della Sera on 27 January: from the 21st click onwards, a contribution of around 33 cents per day will be required, enabling readers to view all the Corriere content and access the complete archive, running from 1876 to the present day, in accordance with the policy laid down by Cioli: «High-quality content must be paid for». The reason for this is that the objectives of the business plan are to increase revenue by 1.5%, double Ebitda, bringing it to 13%, and reduce the ratio between debit and Ebitda by around half.
The third pillar is development investments in areas with high growth potential, such as sports events (above all the Giro d’Italia) and the international sports audience, with the two flagship publications, La Gazzetta dello Sport and Marca (with the latter also extremely popular in South America). The fourth measure: reinforcement and integration of the group’s technological platform. The fifth activity: once again to become a leading player in the press, by promoting a process of consolidation. The sixth measure concerns the disposal of non-core assets, such as Veo and Sfera. The seventh column concerns refocusing management on integration and synergies between Italy and Spain, in order to create the necessary virtuous circle between income and lower costs.
Obviously, the entire business plan (and this is the final action) will be subject to continuous supervision, enabling timely intervention in the event of profound changes to the scenarios. Clearly, this is a considerable challenge, but also an extraordinary opportunity: relaunching a group with over a hundred years of history, which holds, by right, a place in the Italian publishing pantheon.