Publishers up the reach, but still hunting for missing moolah

Much like the domestic magazine sector, newspaper readership remained relatively stable in the latest Nielsen reports and the overall trend for circulation continued downwards. And while the online and mobile properties of the two big publishers are continuing to lure Kiwi eyeballs, recent financial results show the digital dimes still aren’t replacing the lost analog dollars. 

Just two titles were able to trumpet circulation rises in this round. The Herald on Sunday was the major exception to the ‘End is Nigh for Print’ rule, boosting its circulation to 98,042 15 +, up from 95,762 at the same time last year and from 92,315 in 2009. The Herald also held firm with a very small increase, up to 170,704, but it enough to claim the trophy as the only metropolitan daily newspaper to increase circulation for the period.

There’s not much to write home about in circulation, but reach is another matter. Newspaper Comparatives Q2 2010 – Q2 2011

The Herald’s weekly brand audience across print and online grew by 48,000 to reach 1,283,000, with a typical daily readership of 779,000 engaging with the Herald in print or online. The print edition recorded an average readership of 586,000, more than twice as many as any other metropolitan newspaper.

The Weekend Herald recorded a readership of 640,000, nearly 100,000 more readers than any other weekend newspaper in New Zealand. The Sunday Star-Times is still New Zealand’s most read Sunday newspaper, growing by 8,000 readers with a reach of 542,000. But the Herald on Sunday dominates up north, with a readership of 352,000, 70,000 more than the Sunday Star-Times and more than twice as many readers than the Sunday News.

Over at Fairfax, it says 85 percent of New Zealanders, or over 2.9 million, are reached by its media brands every day.

The Waikato Times was the only metropolitan to chart a significant decrease but The Press increased its national reach by seven percent, reaching 238,000 (up 15,000) and the Dominion Post increased by three percent period on period, reaching 231,000 (up 6,000).

“I’m especially proud of the work and results our Christchurch Press team delivered through a very challenging time,” says Fairfax chief cheese Allen Williams. “The Press provided breaking news throughout the Christchurch earthquakes, firmly entrenching its performance in the region and receiving strong support amongst its community audience … “I hear a lot about the ‘end of print’ and the survey results demonstrate that it’s simply not true in New Zealand as yet.”

But it’s the digital realm the publishers seem most excited about. And for good reason. www.nzherald.co.nz attracted a monthly total of 1,775,000 visitors or 64 percent of the total online audience, unique browsers increased by 32 percent over the 12 months ending June 2011 and, perhaps as a sign of things to come, monthly unique browsers on its mobile site increased by 403 percent (its iPad and iPhone/Android apps have had around 100,000 downloads since launch).

“These are exciting times for any media organisation and the Herald provides an excellent case study of how quality, award winning content packaged and delivered through multi-media channels can grow audience numbers and provide dynamic new ways for advertisers to engage with New Zealanders,” says Martin Simons, chief executive of APN’s New Zealand media business.

Stuff.co.nz is the third most visited site in New Zealand behind TradeMe and Yahoo, with a domestic monthly audience of 3.4 million unique browsers, up 49 percent.

Readership aside, the two big publishers are still trying to adapt to These Difficult Times. Fairfax is cutting costs/jobs in Australia and had its ratings outlook lowered recently, while APN said a combination of tough print advertising conditions, the Christchurch earthquake and the weak New Zealand economy led to a $A98.3 million loss in the six months ending 30 June. This included a AU$156 million impairment charge on a 20 percent writedown in the value of its New Zealand metropolitan print assets.

APN’s print media in New Zealand and Australia reported revenue declines of four percent, while ebit declined 36 percent and 39 percent respectively. Elsewhere in the business, the radio sector remained steady, while outdoor continued to rise with revenue growth of 11 percent.

APN also announced a couple of acquisitions, adding online catalogue distributor CC Media in Australia and Jimungo, New Zealand’s largest and most popular sports tipping platform, which was purchased from Affinity ID.

Jimungo has around 300,000 registered users and runs tipping competitions across all major sports, including Rugby, League, Netball and Soccer. It’s a strong fit for nzherald.co.nz’s sports content and lends itself to high audience engagement through interaction and participation in sports events.



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