Latest newspaper stats a mixed bag for print, but big rises for online and mobile

The latest numbers for newspapers have just been released and, according to Nielsen, readership levels for all dailies via print decreased ‘significantly’, as they did for the country’s biggest newspaper, The New Zealand Herald. But there were plenty of positives, with some readership increases, circulation remaining fairly static for most papers and massive rises in the online and mobile realms taking up some of print’s slack. 

In terms of the print winners compared to the same time last year, The Dom Post increased readership by 12,000 and The Press was up 9,000 (across print and online, the Dominion Post charted a 12 percent readership growth while The Press was up 14 percent). The Sunday Star Times increased its audience by 12,000 to 540,000.

Going the other way were the New Zealand Herald, which lost 33,000, The Sunday News, which lost 24,000, The Waikato Times, which lost 13,000 and The National Business Review, which lost 10,000.

As the APN release says, the The Herald still has more than twice as many readers as any other metropolitan newspaper, and more than all other main metropolitan dailies combined. And, despite the print decrease, it increased its weekly brand audience across print and online by 41,000 to almost 1.3 million.

In terms of paid sales, The New Zealand Herald and Herald on Sunday maintained their postions, with the Herald selling 170,707 copies on an average day and the Herald on Sunday up to 98,971 (it sold 90,268 at the end of 2009, so it’s still New Zealand’s fastest growing paper). Much like the magazine sector, readership increases don’t always equate to more sales so, despite good readership surveys, The Dom Post’s circulation was down around one percent, The Press was down 1.25 percent and The Sunday Star Times was down 1.59 percent.

“The Weekend Herald recorded a readership of 631,000, reaching 91,000 more readers than any other weekend newspaper in New Zealand,” APN’s release said “… The Herald on Sunday engages with 382,000 New Zealanders each week, and has increased its audience leadership in its core circulation areas of north of Taupo and Auckland. The Herald on Sunday now reaches 352,000 readers in the Northern Region, with an additional 77,000 readers than its closest competitor, the Sunday Star-Times. This leadership position has grown by 35 percent over the last 12 months.”

Speaking of Auckland, Fairfax had a strong result with its suburban newspapers, which reach 671,000 people 15 plus on a typical day, ahead of the Herald’s reach.

But while paper appears to be holding its own in most cases, the big changes are online—and on mobile devices: nzherald.co.nz delivered a monthly audience of 1,734,000 visitors, which is 62 percent of the total online audience; the Herald’s mobile site increased monthly unique browsers by 171 percent, to 566,970; and its iPad and iPhone/Android apps attracted 98,470 unique visitors last month and generated more than 12 million page views.

“Unique browsers increased by 35 percent over the 12 months ending September 2011, and the audience is spending longer with the content, with average page duration increasing nine percent to one minute and 19 seconds, which is almost double the length of time spent with our nearest competitor’s content,” the APN release says.

Fairfax says stuff.co.nz maintains its position as New Zealand’s number one news site according to data for September from both Nielsen and Comscore, with page impressions up 27 percent in comparison to an increase for the wider market of six percent.

“We’re constantly innovating to respond to consumer needs across all channels. There is a myth that digital competes with print. It is actually an extension of it, and that’s where the future is,” says Fairfax Media chief executive Allen Williams. “Digital complements print.”

And, with Fairfax’s move into IPTV, so too, it seems, does television content.

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