Fairfax’s Sun-Herald loses 100,000 sales while video streams and page impressions fall
Fairfax Media’s Sydney Sunday tabloid the Sun-Herald lost a quarter of its print sales last month, figures released by the company today reveal.
The latest set of numbers from the company also raise questions about whether the company’s web growth has stalled, with video streams falling, mobile browsers standing still and monthly page impressions down on May. The only month-on-month growth came from apps, albeit from a relatively low base.
According to unaudited numbers for June, the Sun-Herald’s sales dropped by almost 100,000 compared to the same month a year before. The 23% fall from 432,617 to 335,174 is believed to be the biggest year-on-year drop in the history of Australian newspapers.
The newspaper underwent a major redesign and relaunch four months ago, which also coincided with a significant cover price rise as the company changed its print strategy to drop unprofitable sales. In commentary on today’s numbers, Fairfax Metro Media CEO Jack Matthews said: “We’re right on track for removing deeply discounted circ that was of no value to our advertisers. “We make no apology for focusing on full price retail and long‐term subscriptions.”
The fall for the Sun-Herald is an acceleration on last month’s 19% drop.
The last available, audited numbers for rival News Limited title the Sunday Telegraph were nearly double that of the Sun-Herald at 609,167.
Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald’s Saturday circulation fell by 17% from 332,492 to 274,682. Its Monday to Friday circulation fell by 13% from 192,102 to 166,438.
In Melbourne, The Age was also significantly down. The Sunday Age was down 15%, The Saturday Age was down 12% and the Monday to Friday edition of The Age was down 13%.
The company’s monthly video streams also fell again – down by 15% year-on-year for smh.com.au and by 16% for theage.com.au. The video streams are also well down month-on-month, from 5.6m to 4.7m for smh.com.au and from 7.5m to 5.5m for theage.com.au.
The number of daily unique browsers on mobile sites were up fractional from 182,707 in May to 184,198 in June for smh.com.au and from 100,625 to 103,527 for theage.com.au.
The number of daily browsers on phone apps were up month-on-month from 7,674 to 9,406 for the SMH and from 5,711 to 6,798 for The Age.
Around 2000 people per day downloaded the SMH tablet app in June taking it up from 305,007 to 364,401. There have been 330,846 downloads to date for The Age’s tablet app.
Matthews said the app downloads had been driven by the launch of a new tablet version. He said: ““We’ve had an extraordinary number of downloads in just 16 days. It even outstrips the launch of the apps a year ago. Our aim is to get as many people as possible to sample the new version before we introduce digital subscriptions next year.”
Monthly page views of smh.com.au fell from 171m in May to 154m in June. Meanwhile age.com.au was up from 148m to 163m. No direct year-on-year comparison is available because of changed methodologies.
Digital editions numbers also appear to have plateaued for SMH. The number of daily digital editions barley increased from 54,577 in May to 56,583 in June.
Yesterday, shares in Fairfax Media fell to the lowest in the company’s history. The Australian reports today that Fairfax Media and APN are set to write down the value of their assets.