Free Time Out London part of magazine 'mini-boom'

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Media captionRadio 5 live heard why Time Out had become a free listings magazine

The founding title of the global magazine brand Time Out has been launched as a free title to London commuters.

Between 170,000 and 190,000 copies of Time Out London - which previously had a cover price of £3.25 - were handed out at London Underground stations earlier.

The publisher of free London magazine, aMuse, said there was a free media "mini-boom".

The new Time Out has been cut from 124 pages to 80, said its editor-in-chief.

'Sifting white noise'

Tim Arthur said all the content previously available in the magazine, including editorials and listings for film, music, theatre, art, shopping and food and drink, was available on the magazine's website instead.

He said the circulation was expected to increase from 50,000 to more than 300,000 and the decision had been taken after "extensive research".

Copies will be available at arts venues, bars, cafes and shops as well as being handed out at underground stations and key transport interchanges in zones one and two.

Image caption The first edition of the free Time Out London

Shafiul Alam and Arun Paul were handing out the magazine outside Oxford Circus underground station from 07:15 BST and said the response from commuters had been "incredible".

Mr Arthur said: "Our website has always had far more listings and editorial than we've been able to put in the magazine. We have 18,000 to 20,000 events listed every week."

He said readers wanted the magazine to "sift through the white noise" and provide the week's highlights.

London Evening Standard newspaper became free in 2009.

The city's other free publications include Scout London, aMuse, Stylist and Sport magazines.

Mr Arthur said: "We made this move because we believe there is room in the market for another free."

He described London as the most developed market for free publications.

Jim Zambrano, publisher and founder of Scout London, which launched in April, said he had been waiting to see the new free Time Out.

'Strengthening free sector'

"There's room for both of us. We are a bit more populist. Time Out is critically driven, a bit more niche, a bit more north and east London."

He said the next edition of Scout London would come out "within weeks" but not be radically changed in light of the new Time Out.

Image caption The October issue of aMuse

Stephen Murphy, publisher of the six-month-old monthly aMuse magazine, said: "The only city to rival London is New York.

"It is good for aMuse that Time Out is free because it strengthens the free sector.

"The market for paid-for magazines on the news stand is saturated and people are spending less on magazines.

"There's a mini-boom. Every day of the week now we are going to get something for free getting off the Tube."

Chairman Tony Elliott launched Time Out London, based in Tottenham Court Road, central London, in 1968.

It sold more than 110,000 copies a week during the 1990s, its most successful period.

Its recent circulation has been around half that, with the majority of sales coming through subscriptions.

Subscribers will now receive the publication for free but will be charged a fee to cover the cost of postage.

Foreign editions - available in such cities as Paris and New York - will remain as paid-for publications.

Time Out Mexico City, the latest of the 37 global titles, launched in April.

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