Year-on-year newspaper circulations and readership drop across the board

Another fairly dark set of results for New Zealand's newspaper industry, as the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) results and Nielsen's readership numbers showing further year-on-year declines throughout the country. 

The ABC figures between April 2012 and March 2013 show weekly newspapers are particularly feeling the pain. The National Business Review dropping 12.1 percent of its circulation, Sunday Star Times losing 11.1 percent and the Sunday News down 16.3 percent to where it was a year ago. Even the Herald on Sunday, which has been weathering the storm better than most and seen regular rises, has seen a decline of 0.2 percent. 

Weekly Publication: Circulation (change %)

Herald on Sunday: 101,525 (-0.2)

The NBR: 7010 (-12.1)

Sunday News: 36,836 (-16.5)

Sunday Star-Times: 131,196 (-11.1)

Dailies haven't fared much better, with losses across the board topped by an 11.6 percent drop in circulation by the Waikato Times.

The only newspaper growth in circulation was by the Whakatane Beacon, albeit only a 0.3 percent increase to the previous year.

Daily Publication: Circulation (change %)

The Dominion Post: 78643 (-2.9)  

NZ Herald: 158521 (-6.9)

Otago Daily Times: 37,909 (-2.1)

The Press: 74,395 (-4.0)

The Southland Times: 26,303 (-5.6)

Waikato Times: 34,317 (-11.6)

Nielsen's readership survey also released today shows almost universal—and significant—drops for the newspaper industry when compared to last year, although APN's newspaper inserts have seen a bit of a resurgence.

APN's newly compacted New Zealand Herald did increase readership over the last quarter with a rise from 531,000 to 539,000 (see release below), and the Otago Daily Times was the only other daily to follow suit in terms of quarterly rises, up from 96,000 to 98,000. 

The Herald on Sunday increased its quarterly readership by 4,000 to 366,000 and the Sunday Star Times remained on 432,000. 

These results aren't unexpected as more news consumers turn to online for their current affairs fix. Where once the only way to read news was in the papers, it's now readily available on blogs and websites – including the newspapers' own. The NBR already puts much of its content behind paywalls and with the recent announcement of cost cutting at Fairfax, acting general manager Andrew Boyle says the company is contemplating paywalls. It remains to be seen where APN is going to throw its weight.

Note: circulation is a measure of a publication's sales and deliveries, as measured by the ABC; readership is a measure of possible readers, from the result of surveys conducted by Nielsen. These two reports are independent of each other.

APN's release:

"The New Zealand Herald is the fastest growing daily newspaper in the country with readership increasing every single day of the week, the latest Nielsen audience numbers confirm today. These results come less than two weeks after the Canon Media Awards where the Herald was crowned Newspaper of the Year, just seven months after launching to its new compact format.

Martin Simons, CEO APN New Zealand Media said he is thrilled with the results “Readership growth across every day of the week is a massive success for us and clearly demonstrates the relevance of newspapers in today’s ever-changing media environment. The move to compact format has energised the Herald and these results prove that our readers agree.”

The Herald has also shown growth across all of its newspaper inserted magazines with Canvas, Travel and Weekend all increasing readership by more than 30,000. The Business which won Best Newspaper Inserted Magazine of the Year at the Canon Media Awards also deserves a notable mention demonstrating significant readership growth of 20,000 readers.

The strong readership gains across all Herald newspaper titles has contributed to the growth in the Herald’s overall brand audience with 1,375,000 people engaging with the brand each week. This is an increase of 19,000 compared to the previous release. The Herald online has grown its monthly unique audience by 32% compared to the same time last year and audience on our mobile platforms increased on average by 69%.

The Herald has also experienced improved reader engagement. The website has shown a 14% growth, engagement across mobile platforms has more than doubled in the last 12 months and newspaper readers are engaging with our content more frequently.

The Herald on Sunday continues to be the best-read Sunday newspaper across the whole of the North Island, gaining 4,000 readers, the only Sunday paper to have increased its audience over this period.

The re-design of APN Regional daily papers to compact format and morning delivery is now complete. Reader response has been very positive, with the total unduplicated audience across the regional portfolio increasing 4,000, to 206,000 readers on a typical day.


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