Newspaper circ and readership results: downward trends continue, but a few surprises creep in—UPDATED

To some degree, the quarterly results of Nielsen’s readership and ABC’s circulation surveys have become predictable in showing the newspaper industry in decline. And while this was largely the case with the latest figures, there were also a few surprises in the mix.  

As in the last few surveys, the print slide continued again in terms of both readership and circulation for most of the nation’s papers.  

And despite the downward trajectory of print publications, the narrative once again was that readership figures across all platforms had grown.

A release from APN said that the digital growth greatly outweighed the drop in print and that the New Zealand Herald, in particular, was still in good health.       

“The New Zealand Herald is leading this growth, increasing by 10,000 readers a week across print, desktop, mobile and tablet to 1,349,000 including the weekday Herald gaining 5,000 readers in the last quarter,” said the APN PR team.

When the print figures are isolated, the Herald suffered an 11 percent year-on-year readership dip going from 539,000 last year to 480,000 this year. The Dominion Post also suffered a proportionally similar drop (12 percent) going from 234,000 to 205,000.

The Otago Daily Times fared slightly better but still lost 8,000 readers as it went from 98,000 to 90,000, while The Press slipped from 209,000 to 191,000.

The exception in the daily category was the Waikato Times, which maintained its readership of 87,000 (up from last quarter’s 80,000)

In each of these cases, ABC’s circulation figures followed readership results as each publication surveyed suffered a drop. The most significant dip in circulation was felt by the Herald, which slipped from 158,000 to 147,000 daily papers. The Dominion Post (78,600 to 73,400), The Press (74,400 to 68,000), Waikato Times (34,300 to 30,800) all followed suit by losing numbers.     

On a regional level, there were no accurate readership figures avaialble at this stage (Nielsen will only release these in August), but ABC’s circulation figures showed moderate drops for several publications. 

The Wairarapa Times-Age slipped from 6,200 last year to 5,800 this year, the Northern Advocate went from 12,600 to 11,700 and the Oamaru Mail declined from 2,700 to 2,500, The Marlborough Express slipped from 7,900 last year to 7,100, and the Ashburton Guardian went  from 5,000 last year to 4,700 this year.

  • View ABC’s statistics here.

But the bad news wasn’t all-encompassing. The Herald on Sunday put in another strong year by increasing its readership from 366,000 last year to 371,000 this year. This was however not the case for the popular paper’s circulation figures, which dropped from 101,600 to 98,800. 

There were also no accurate readership figures for the Southland Times, but ABC’s stats saw the publication’s circulation drop from 26,300 to 24,700.

  • Please note: all references to provincial readership figures initially published in this article have been removed. For further information on the reasons for this, please click here.  

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