The hard copy of almost every major newspaper and magazine in Australia is being passed between more readers now than this time last year, according to the first year on year readership data from newspaper industry funded Enhanced Media Metrics Australia (EMMA).
An analysis of 46 titles in today’s EMMA data by Mumbrella shows that the number of readers per copy (RPC) has risen for all but four of the titles, whilst 24 have actually increased their readership in the past 12 months. Meanwhile circulation was down for all but three of the newspaper and magazine titles analysed, as of the last available Audit Bureau of Circulation numbers, for the year to March 2014.
Some of the most notable changes include:
- The Age rising from 5.22 RPC to 6.23 RPC, despite circulation falling 17.92 per cent
- Zoo Weekly rising from 9.44 RPC to 15.24 RPC, despite a circulation decline of 36.36 per cent
- Northern Territory News readership climbing from 64,000 to 70,000 Monday to Friday despite circulation decline of 11.65 per cent
- The Daily Telegraph gaining 18,000 readers for the Monday to Friday editions, despite losing 9.49 per cent in circulation
The EMMA data, which shows changes year-on-year up to June 2014, has been released five days ahead of the next Audit Bureau of Circulation figures which cover the period from March to June 2014, and are expected to show more circulation declines for print newspapers and magazines.
Adam Hodgson, research and operations director, Ipsos MediaCT which conducts the research for the survey, said in a statement to Mumbrella: “Countless studies conducted globally and in this market demonstrate conclusively there is no direct correlation between circulation sales figures and readership.
“Why? Because we have to take into account promotions, discounted copies, plus higher readership and pass-on-copies for big news stories.”The surge in readers per copy has contributed to rises in the print readerships of a number of high profile metropolitan newspapers such as Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Brisbane’s Courier Mail, the Northern Territory News and the Canberra Times, which EMMA shows all saw print readership rises despite all facing significant collapses in print sales.
The weekday RPC are now at 4.49 readers per copy for the Canberra Times and 4.79 for the NT News. The Canberra Times now claims a 109,000 weekday print readers in a territory 384,000 people, while The NT News is showing 70,000 print readers in a territory with 242,000 people.
Some News Corp titles also saw a robust rise in readership, with the weekday print readership for the Herald Sun going from 1.446m to 1.452m, despite the newspaper selling 43,036 less copies, and the Courier Mail which saw its weekday readership rise from 713,000 to 716,000.
The newspaper industry attributes some of these increases to the “pass on factor” or so called “secondary readers” with copies being shared by people in places like homes, workplaces and cafes.
One media agency analysis seen by Mumbrella put EMMA’s average RPC at 4.2, with rival Roy Morgan showing an RPC of 3. In this analysis Australia was dramatically above the US equivalent survey run by Scarborough Research which had an average of 2.5 RPC, while the National Readership Survey in the UK, which is also conducted by IPSOS, had 2.7 RPC.
Commenting on the changes in RPC in the EMMA survey Ipsos’ Hodgson said: “In terms of RPC, Australian numbers are well in line with international norms: our reader per copy average is 3.4 across the major national and metro Mon-Sun newspapers. In the Netherlands the average newspaper RPC is 4, in France approximately 4.5, in Italy where pass-on readership is very high it’s 8.
“When looking at RPC differences in research methodology have to be taken into account. The methods used within EMMA are fully in-line with international standards, and have been independently audited to confirm they meet the appropriate standards of technical rigour.”
Ipsos declined to be interviewed directly on the matter while Fairfax and News Corp directed all requests for comment back to the readership company. News Corp did issue a statement which read: “The EMMA survey is conducted by globally respected market research company IPSOS, and the data is independently audited. It is right that IPSOS comments on these matters.”
The only publisher willing to comment on what media buyers have described as “inconsistencies” in the EMMA data was Pacific Magazines, whose director of magazines Peter Zavecz justified rises for titles including Better Homes and Gardens as people sharing magazines more in times of economic restraint.
“We have just had a budget, the economy tightens up, there has been some really negative consumer sentiment out there we notice that while the appetite doesn’t diminish for magazines consumer spending does,” said Zavecz.
“We see an increase in pass on readers around those sort of times. It usually happens around families, friends and colleagues – they may not be purchasing them as regularly but they are still accessing them.”
The overall EMMA survey suggested that print readership is down 4 per cent overall but that there has been an 11 per cent increase in digital audiences.
Full newspaper analysis:
Click to enlarge. Source EMMA and AMAA
Full magazine analysis:
Click to enlarge Source: EMMA and AMAA