Project Eyeball

Project Eyeball was Singapore's first integrated print and digital newspaper.1 It was launched on 12 August 2000 by the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).2 Targeted at Internet-savvy readers between the ages of 20 and 40, Project Eyeball aimed to carry news of interest to engage the wired generation.3 Unfortunately, high operating cost and poor circulation rate led to the newspaper's demise less than a year after its launch.4

Project Eyeball comprised a print newspaper published from Mondays to Saturdays, and an online version which was updated round the clock. While the printed papers carried news and stories specially targeted at young and Internet-savvy readers, the website functioned as an avenue for readers to air their views and interact with journalists via forums and chat rooms. Readers could also access audio and video broadcasts, MP3 downloads as well as other related content and websites.5 Opinions and responses from the online forums were then published in the following day’s newspaper.6

The plan to roll out Project Eyeball had begun about 10 months before its launch in 2000.7 On 15 February 2000, SPH announced that it had obtained the licence to publish Project Eyeball, with Bertha Henson appointed as editor of the newspaper.8

The Internet version went online on 17 July 2000, while the print issue was launched about a month later, on 12 August.9 The one-month difference was to allow for time to collect views and feedback from readers in order to shape the newspaper.10

The launch of the print version was held at the Shaw House amphitheatre, an event that included performances, fashion shows and contests with attractive prizes. Copies of the issue were also given away free at the event. In the following week, about 120,000 copies were distributed free from Monday to Friday. Each copy of the newspaper cost 80 cents and could be bought at selected bookstores, supermarkets, convenience stores and tertiary institutions.11

Project Eyeball was suspended with effect from 29 June 2001, just ten months after its launch. Both the website and print newspapers were closed down, with the last issue published on 28 June. The suspension was attributed to a combination of low circulation rate and advertising revenue, which caused SPH to lose S$13.3 million. The newspaper failed to meet its first-year circulation target of 30,000, and its three-year budget had also been depleted. Furthermore, it had faced fierce competition from two newly launched free newspapers, Streats and Today. Out of the newspaper’s 65 staff, 19 were retrenched and the rest redeployed within SPH.12


Devin Jeyathurai & Bonny Tan

1. Hong Xinyi, “This Is the Woman Behind Project Eyeball,” New Paper, 8 June 2000, 14. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “Eyeball Hits the Streets with a Bang,” Straits Times, 13 August 2000, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Salma Khalik, “New SPH Paper Gets Its Licence,” Straits Times, 16 February 2000, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
4. “SPH Suspends Both Print, Online Editions of Eyeball,” Business Times, 28 June 2001, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Chua Mui Hoong, “SPH to Launch Newspaper for the Hip and Opinionated,” 
Straits Times, 7 June 2000, 1; Chua Chin Hon, “Project Eyeball Hits the Net on Monday,” Straits Times, 15 July 2000, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Teh Hooi Ling, “Singapore’s Latest Paper to Readers: Tell Us What You Want,” Business Times, 7 June 2000, 1 (From NewsapaperSG); Chua, “Project Eyeball Hits the Net on Monday”; Chua, “SPH to Launch Newspaper for the Hip and Opinionated.” 
7. Chua, “SPH to Launch Newspaper for the Hip and Opinionated.” 
8. Khalik, “New SPH Paper Gets Its Licence.” 
9. Chua, “Project Eyeball Hits the Net on Monday.”
10. Teh, “Singapore’s Latest Paper to Readers.”
11. “Eyeball Hits the Streets with a Bang”; “First Issue of Project Eyeball Paper Free,” Straits Times, 9 August 2000, 53; Page 22 Advertisements Column 1: Project Eyeball,” Business Times, 12 January 2001, 22. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “SPH Suspends Both Print, Online Editions of Eyeball”; “Loss-Making SPH Tabloid Suspended,” Straits Times, 28 June 2001, 6; “‘Media War and Pricing’ Hurt Eyeball,” Straits Times, 3 July 2001, 7. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


English newspapers--Singapore
Electronic newspapers--Singapore