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Relaunched Sun-Herald loses 19% of its circulation

sun herald relaunch coverThe print edition of Fairfax Media’s Sun-Herald has suffered the biggest percentage fall in the newspaper’s history, figures released by the company suggest.

According to Fairfax’s monthly update to the market on its audiences across all of its platforms, the Sun-Herald fell to a new low of 432,617 in May – a drop of 19% on the same time a year before.

As well as the ongoing decline in the print market, a major factor was the company’s shift in strategy to focus on increasing cover price rather than chasing circulation. The price went up from $2 to $2.30 in most of its market and up to $2.50 in northern New South Wales. It is the first time the company has put a regional premium on the Sunday edition.

The monthly numbers – which have not been officially audited – are the first to be publicly available since the Sun-Herald underwent a relaunch which was backed with an extensive marketing campaign.

The Saturday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald fell by 14% to 284,622. The Monday to Friday editions of the SMH fell by 10% to 173,229.

On Monday the SMH’s editor-in-chief and publisher Peter Fray and editor Amanda Wilson resigned as the company begins its restructure.

Meanwhile, Fairfax’s Victorian newspaper The Age also saw drops – with Monday to Friday circulation down by 14%, Saturday down by 13% and the Sunday Age down 14%.

The Age’s editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge also resigned this week.

Official Audit Bureau of Circulations numbers will not be available until mid-August.

Meanwhile, website smh.com.au saw a 24% fall in video streams in May compared to the same period last year, data from the company suggests. The number of video streams fell from just under 7.5m in May 2011 to just over 5.6m last month.

In commentary on its audience report, Fairfax addressed the video streams issue saying:

“While total audience size is growing rapidly, there were fewer individual news stories attracting massive popular interest compared to May 2011. This is reflected in a decline in the number of video streams on Metro Media’s sites. Last year in May, audiences were drawn to the Bin Laden assassination and carry-over from the Royal Wedding. The Sydney Morning Herald’s percentage decline is larger than The Age’s because it enjoyed the bigger rush of visitors at the time of those big breaking news stories last year. Given that The Sydney Morning Herald has more national brand awareness than The Age, it receives the bigger lift in online traffic outside its core audience when big news stories hit and consumers rush to smh.com.au as the most known and trusted brand in online news and current affairs.”

Sister title theage.com.au’s number of video streams also fell, although not as dramatically – down by 6% from 4m to just under 3.8m.

Mobile browsers grew rapidly for both smh.com.au and theage.com.au – up 77% and 79%.

Fairfax continued to show growth of its digital replica editions – Monday to Friday edition sales of the SMH were up to 54,577 in May from an average of 36,816 in the previous quarter. The Age was up from 9,311 to 22,365.

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