ABCs: Newspaper circulation suffers across the board with falls as large as 16%

Not a single newspaper saw circulation growth for the first six months of the year, with the majority of titles falling by 10% or more.

New figures from the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA) show that for the half year to June 2018 the circulation of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Australian Financial Review fell by at least 10%.

More decline for print newspapers, the new data shows

This round of data is the third time the AMAA has consolidated six months worth of circulation numbers for newspapers, rather than the traditional quarterly release. The data comes nine months after News Corp decided to withdraw from the newspaper circulation audit.

At the time, Fairfax Media and Seven West Media said they would review their ongoing commitment to the AMAA’s ABC audit. To date, no changes have been made.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s circulation now sits 78,798, compared to 88,634 the previous year. The Age’s circulation also fell below 80,000 for the first time, to a circulation of 74,360.

According to the new data, the smallest year on year decline was from The Canberra Times, down 9% from a circulation of 15,298 to 13,808, while the biggest was from The West Australian – falling 16% year on year to a circulation of 128,365. National masthead The Australian Financial Review saw its Monday to Friday circulation fall from 44,635 this time last year, to 39,834.

For Saturday and Sunday editions, it was a similar story of decline.

The Australian Financial Review’s weekend edition, which runs nationally on a Saturday, had the smallest dip, down 4% from this time last year to a circulation of 46,716.

However Fairfax Media’s The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age fell more sizeably, both down 9% year on year. Sydney Morning Herald’s circulation now sits at 152,434 while The Age’s circulation is 130,951. The West Australian’s Saturday newspaper dropped 12% to 207,004.

The worst affected among the Sunday titles in Western Australia’s Sunday Times, which fell 16% from 200,574 to a circulation of 168,432. The Sunday Age and The Canberra Times both fell by 10%, with circulations of 103,441 and 14,126. The Sun Herald’s circulation fell by 12% to 144,123.

Although News Corp is no longer in the independent newspaper audit, it did release a number of circulation figures to the ASX for the year to June 2018.

The title with the highest circulation is the Sunday Telegraph, with its average daily paid print circulation at 334,209, according to ‘internal sources’. The biggest Monday to Saturday edition is the Herald Sun, with a circulation of 278,066. National masthead The Australian has a circulation of 88,581.

The AMAA’s last figures for the six months to June 2017 revealed The Australian’s circulation was 94,448 while the weekend edition had a circulation of 219,242.  The Monday to Friday edition of The Daily Telegraph was 221,641 and The Sunday Telegraph’s last reported AMAA circulation figure was 378,449.

News Corp’s Brisbane masthead The Courier Mail had a Monday to Friday circulation figure of 135,007 for the six months to June while The Advertiser’s circulation was 112,097, when last reported.

Digital sales at The Western Australian plummeted for the first half, down almost 70% of its subscriber base compared to this time last year, from 19,672 to 6,037. Fairfax Media and News Corp’s digital figures are no longer audited. According to figures provided by News Corp, The Australian now has 135,783 paid digital subscribers as of June 2018.

Sydney-based masthead The Daily Telegraph currently has a subscription base of 114,203 and The Herald Sun, which is Melbourne’s main title, has 108,801 subscribers.

At the beginning of last year, less than 20 publishers remained in the magazine audit. It came after the three major magazine publishers – Pacific Magazines, Bauer Media, and NewsLifeMedia – withdrew from the AMAA, in a move which was said to effectively kill the magazine audit. Since then, The Big Issue, RM Williams Outback, Frankie, Runner’s World and The Monthly have also pulled. There are now ten publishers remaining.

The magazine with the biggest print circulation is Club Marine, which was the only title to increase its circulation – up 3% from 87,487 to 90,456. Some of the biggest circulation falls came from Quokka – which fell by 30% to a circulation of 3,149 – Just Trucks & Heavy Equipment fell by 16% to 6,134. Just 4x4s fell below 5,000 for the first time, down 14% to a circulation of 4,435.


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