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Postmedia shuts down its evening tablet edition to focus on news app

TORONTO — Postmedia is scrapping the short-lived evening tablet edition it hoped would help usher in the next wave of digital journalism.

A spokeswoman for the media company confirmed that Wednesday evening would see the final editions of the digital experiment at the Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette.

"They're beautiful products and we're incredibly proud of how they look, but they didn't reach a critical mass of audience or advertisers," Phyllise Gelfand said in an interview.

Tablet readers will be redirected to Postmedia's news app, which was recently revamped. The updated version works on both smartphones and tablets.

Postmedia launched its first digital evening edition in May 2014 at the Citizen before expanding the project to other markets.

The company boasted about its mix of the day's top stories and feature articles wrapped in a slick magazine-like layout with interactive components.

The project was reminiscent of News Corp.'s failed The Daily, a subscription-based digital newspaper tailor-made for the iPad that launched in February 2011 and was shut down less than two years later.

Canadian media companies have been grappling with the evolution of digital readership, trying out a raft of concepts to varying success.

Postmedia's websites across the country operate on a metered paywall structure similar to the business section of the Globe and Mail, which allows readers to access a set number of articles before they are asked to subscribe.

The Toronto Star used the same type of model before scrapping the concept in favour of its Star Touch tablet edition, which is modelled after a similar edition of La Presse in Quebec.

The French-Canadian market has responded so enthusiastically to the tablet edition that Le Presse has announced plans to phase out its weekday print edition before next year.

Postmedia found that its tablet edition appealed to "a very, very niche audience" that wanted to sit down for a 30- to 40-minute read of in-depth analysis and multimedia content, said Cole Reiken, vice-president of the company's digital businesses.

"We're seeing growth ... in that always up-to-date, 'let me get in and let me get out' (reader)," he said.

"We're streamlining our product portfolio to focus on that."

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. (TSX:PNC.B) reports its fourth-quarter financial results on Friday.

Follow @dj_friend on Twitter.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

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