Good news! Northcliffe has realised that it’s Local People network model is flawed and has decided to try and shift the risk onto naive entrepreneurs instead.
Maybe I’m just being optimistic given my well-known loathing of Local People but it’s as if Northcliffe have decided that receiving £7k for each new Local People site is much better than forking out £6k for a ‘community publisher’.
In launching a franchise “opportunity” the Local People network is now much more like the About My Area and The Best Of networks. Does this then mean that the network is not so much competing with existing grass-roots hyperlocal sites anymore?
Either way, if this represents a slowing down of the roll-out of Local People sites that is a good thing for communities everywhere as far as I’m concerned. The less glorified discussion forums we have threatening the existence of Northcliffe’s own papers the better.
One concern is that pricing a hyperlocal site at £7k has the effect of bringing the hyperlocal bubble that I fear we’re seeing in the US over to the UK. While there is still no clear business model for successful hyperlocal, pumping £7k into such a site with no clear route to a return is surely suicidal.
Of course, this franchise model could see Local People go the way of About My Area and The Best Of and become much more business-oriented and far less about the news. Not that they carry much quality news at the moment anyway….