APN defies predictions but Star Times nabs Auckland reader growth

APN emerges as the winner in the latest newspaper readership numbers, continuing to defy world trends in daily rags and thumbing its nose at nearest rival Fairfax Media.

The annual Nielsen readership numbers are always followed by much chest-thumping, and in APN’s case there’s a fair amount to thump about. The NZ Herald and the Herald on Sunday are up six percent and 12 percent respectively on the year to December 2009. Its supplements, Canvas, TimeOut, Viva and the Business Herald all show growth and the nzherald.co.nz increased its quarterly visitors by 34,000 in quarter four.

In contrast, Fairfax titles mostly recorded falls nationwide, though only two were statistically significant. Sunday News slipped eight percent from 302,000 to 280,000 and Sunday Star Times slipped seven per cent from 563,000 to 533,000.

Nationwide, newspapers are holding their own in readership, staying steady with the growth of the population.

Circulation numbers bear out a similar tale. Compiled bi-annually by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the Herald held its circ steady at 170,677 and HoS grew 6,000 to 96,069. SST fell by 7,000 to 160,592 (it dropped them all in the last half of 2010 – what gives?) and Sunday News fell a massive 11,000 to 51,740. Indeed the Sunday News lost 31,000 circ in the last two years.

APN doesn’t get all the bouquets though. Shift the focus to Auckland and SST is a surprising winner, surging 14 percent, lifting its readership from 174,000 to 202,000. SST joins the North shore Times and Western Leader as the only papers to record statistically significant growth in Auckland, says Nielsen. This will give great encouragement to Fairfax as it tries to catch its weekly competitor, Herald on Sunday, which grew seven percent to 237,000.

Sunday News held steady in Auckland at 103,000 readers.

Fairfax’s take on it all is that it rules the rest of New Zealand.

“For the first time, Fairfax Media’s stable of brands is found to be read by a staggering 85.2 per cent of New Zealanders aged 15+ years on an average day. The result, up 2.5 per cent year on year, is from the January to December 2010 Nielsen Consumer and Media Insights survey,” its says in a release today.

Chief banana of Fairfax Media, Allen Williams says the positive results reflect the significant on‐going investment into quality journalism and a ‘content first, channel second’ approach.

“We are a multi‐platform media company, with an investment in our 750+ journalists and as such, the superior quality of our news content is what drives our business across newspapers, magazines, online, and the recent additions of mobile, tablet and video. We view these readership results as testament to the power of integration we have achieved across platforms for our audiences.”

The APN dominance of Auckland must annoy Fairfax, so used to being the big noise across the ditch. Check out this (supplied) graphic about APN’s reach into wealthy Auckland. Stories about Granny’s death are much exaggerated.

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