Print sector arms race heats up, new readership figures used for self-praise and propaganda

The latest Nielsen Media Research data for readership numbers in the 12 months ending March 2010 has been released, and so has the obligatory combination of excessive adjective use, trumpet blowing, chest beating, questions about the research methodology, some oft-times fairly creative use of statistics and, if you look at the image above this paragraph, funny pictures of people with very white teeth who smile when they read.

Anecdotally, there seems to be a new found sense of optimism across the print sector and, mostly, the figures show the pendulum is starting to swing in the right direction.

APN is the pick of the bunch: the New Zealand Herald has strengthened its position as New Zealand’s best-read newspaper with a readership of 582,000 and it’s also the country’s fastest growing paper with an increase of 22,000 readers.

The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly remains number one in the weekly magazine category and the Herald on Sunday dominates Sunday newspaper readership in the Northern region, from Taupo north.

With readership growth in every category and APN publishing brands now reaching 2.2 million New Zealanders on a typical day, publishing chief executive Martin Simons says the news is encouraging and “demonstrates the confidence New Zealanders have in the printed medium and in our titles”.

Herald readership on average is 582,000, 37,000 higher than any daily or weekly newspaper in New Zealand. And the Weekend Herald is averaging 625,000 readers, 80,000 more readers than any other paper, with the overall brand audience (those who read across the printed and online edition of the paper) growing by 44,000 year on year to reach 721,000 on a typical day.

Simons says print readership increases have been driven by the success in APN’s subscriber acquisition programme, which accounted for more than half its daily circulation.

“A strong subscriber base delivers a more frequent and highly engaged audience across every day of publication, which is extremely valuable for our advertising clients,” he says.

Things are also going well in terms of the Herald’s newspaper inserted magazines: Canvas increased readership by 16,000 to 433,000 and Time Out, delivered in the Thursday edition of the paper, added 43,000 readers to reach 393,000. Friday’s Business Herald, with a readership of 385,000, now has five times as many readers as any other weekly business magazine (interestingly, the National Business Review’s print numbers aren’t looking very healthy, with 14,000 fewer readers than the year previous, which possibly puts its recent claims about the number of paid online subscriptions it had gained into perspective).

The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly is up 19,000 to 814,000 readers, making it New Zealand’s best-read newsstand magazine with more than 31,000 more readers than its nearest weekly competitor (although it is still 31,000 fewer readers than it had in April 2008).

Fairfax Media doesn’t have quite as much to crow about (aside from the success of stuff.co.nz, which recently overtook nzherald.co.nz as the most read news site in New Zealand) but says an increased focus on local content has helped newspaper growth for The Dominion Post, The Press and Waikato Times.

The Press increased its readership period-on-period by 3,000 readers aged 15+ in the Christchurch area, with a 2.9 percent increase year-on-year in the number of readers in the Christchurch area across the Monday-Friday editions. The Waikato Times now reaches 104,000 Kiwis.

The Dom Post increased its numbers slightly, with 249,000 readers on an average day. And, in its core Wellington area, it gained an extra 1,000 readers and now reaches 144,000 Wellingtonians.

On a national scale, The Sunday Star-Times took the most well read Sunday newspaper medal with 562,000 readers aged 10+. But it’s a hollow victory, as it has lost 18,000 readers since last year and 40,000 since the 2008 figures. Sunday magazine also performed poorly, down 17,000 on last year.

In the Fairfax Magazines stable, there was an additional 12,000 readers year-on-year. NZ Gardener was the star performer with a readership of 320,000, a 11.5 percent year-on-year increase. And Lifestyle Block also performed well to reach 64,000 readers, an increase of 14.3 percent year-on-year.

ACP Magazines says its performance has defied the doomsday prophesies and, with growth of one percent in gross magazine readership, the total market is now on the right side of the ledger.

Overall, almost half the company’s titles increased their readership, with some of the biggest increases in readership coming from Lucky Break, HOME New Zealand and Your Home & Garden. ACP can also boast the top two best-selling monthly magazines – Next and The Australian Women’s Weekly.

ACP Media chief executive Paul Dykzeul says the figures are a tribute to the talent and hard work of committed people across the company.

“The fact that magazines outstrip television for reach in some areas is a clear message from consumers to advertisers about where the dollars are going to get the best return on their spend.”

All up, ACP titles are read by 2.9 million New Zealanders every year, with nine out of 10 women in New Zealand reading one of its titles in a year. And the ladies have been doing a  bit more reading (or, mostly, looking at pictures of Brangelina) recently: the weekly women’s titles sector has grown by 2.7 percent and ACP claims its titles have created 40 percent of the growth.

Woman’s Day increased by three percent, or 23,000 readers, to 783,000 readers. And the readership gap between it and the closest competitor, New Zealand Women’s Weekly, is closing and is now the smallest it has ever been.

Lucky Break continues to build on the success of its launch and ACP claims it has had the biggest readership growth of any weekly title within the past 12 months, up 30 percent for a total readership of 123,000. And it’s the fourth consecutive period in which the readership has grown.

However, Tangible Media’s weekly street mag and gig guide The Groove Guide delivered a 40 percent readership increase in the last year, with the weekly audience jumping from 20,000 to 28,000 per week. NZ Fishing World and NZ Rugby World also posted some positive numbers.

The Home, Garden and Lifestyle category was a growth area, increasing seven percent in gross readership compared to the same period last year and showing that titles offering practical advice in TDT (these difficult times) is highly sought after.

Healthy Food Guide continued its charge, adding an additional 27,000 readers, Your Home & Garden gained 17,000 readers (seven percent growth) and HOME New Zealand grew its readership by 10 percent over the past 12 months to reach 74,000 people.

For statistics trainspotters and lovers of comparative charts, download the PDFs. Magazines_Comparatives Newspapers_Comparatives

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