Community and rural papers hold strong in latest newspaper readership and circ figures

Last week’s report on magazine readership and circulation figures once again reiterated that print is undergoing a period of transition as audiences shift their media consumption online. And looking at Nielsen’s readership and ABC’s circulation results, it’s more of the same. However, there was some good news for the rural and community publications.           

The daily papers suffered dips across the board, with the Herald losing the biggest chunk in shedding 34,000 readers year on year. This was followed by the Dominion Post, which lost 31,000 and The Press, which lost 12,000. 

Despite these drops, the Waikato Times and the Otago Daily Times were relatively stable, losing only 3,000 and 4,000 readers, respectively. Furthermore, the Otago Daily Times enjoyed a lift of 4,000 readers from the previous quarter.

Even though this isn’t necessarily good news from a print perspective, publications such as the Herald and The Dominion Post still have substantial audiences. And when these figures are viewed alongside the online readership, it illustrates that the industry as a whole continues to be relevant to the Kiwi public. It is for this reason that NZME and Fairfax are increasingly referring to their offerings as cross-channel brands. 

There were also drops across the board in terms of circulation figures, although these were more moderate than those recorded in readership figures.  

There was also bad news in the weekly category, with dips across the board. The Herald on Sunday was hit particularly hard, losing 63,000 readers. This was followed by the Sunday Star Times, which lost 41,000 readers and Sunday News, which declined by 29,000.

Although the National Business Review’s readership dropped by 8,000 readers, the publication is one of the few to have set up a successful paywall in the Kiwi market. In October last year, NBR Publisher Todd Scott said the paywall was bringing in $1 million in digital subs revenue and that he hoped for more following a revamp of the website.  

The circulation figures for the weeklies served up a similar story, with each paper suffering a year-on-year drop, except for the Herald on Sunday, which saw 337 more papers in circulation than a year earlier.    

Judging by the uniform lift across the board for the fortnightly newspapers, it seems that publications targeted at the rural community continue to be appealing. In terms of year-on-year growth, Dairy News gained 19,000 readers, Rural News increased by 4,000 (although it was down from last quarter) and the Otago Southland Farmer increased by 6,000 readers (also down from last quarter).    

There were only circulation figures available for Otago Southland Farmer, and it enjoyed year-on-year growth as it went from 20,589 to 20,840 papers. 

The liftout category has in the past served up something of a mixed bag with some publications going up and others dropping. However, this was not the case in the latest string of readership results, as every publication surveyed suffered a dip.

These drops were particularly pronounced among the bigger publications, with Canvas losing 93,000 readers, Sunday slipping by 32,000, Timeout dropping by 49,000, Viva declining by 37,000, Weekend Magazine shrinking by 74,000 and Living reducing by 50,000 year on year.     

There was some good news in the among the community papers, with seven of the papers surveyed enjoying lifts in readership (click here to see the circulation figures for the community papers). However, this was not enough to stop the overall Fairfax suburban group (WC) from suffering a 37,000 year-on-year dip in readership. 

That being said, Nielsen’s survey shows that the community papers continue to hold onto a readership of 688,0000. In addition, much of the content published in these papers is also repurposed and published online on Stuff, which is one of the reasons why Stuff’s online readership figures are so strong. 

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