Tuesday, May 01, 2012

New circ data: small weekday rise, bigger Sunday; Gannett's largest newspapers turn in mixed results

The new data out today by the industry-controlled Audit Bureau of Circulations shows weekday circulation for the nation's newspapers rose an average 0.68 of a percentage point weekdays, and a much stronger 5% gain on Sundays.

The figures are for the six months ended March 31, and cover 618 weekday papers and 532 publishing Sundays.

ABC released data for the top 25 papers weekdays and Sundays, combining print and digital editions. Gannett papers included:

  • USA Today: 1,817,446, down 0.64 of a percentage point
  • The Arizona Republic: 321,600, down 4.62%
  • Detroit Free Press: 230,739, down 6.27%
  • Detroit Free Press: 662,987, up 7.94%
  • Arizona Republic: 538,579, up 5.24%
The GCI figures show the results of a special effort to emphasize Sunday circulation. The company is now rolling out new paywalls at several dozen dailies. The full effect of that switch on digital circulation won't be known until the next ABC report, for Sept. 30.

Post-paywall, NYT circ soars
For a glimpse of that impact at other publishers, consider The New York Times. With a paywall in place for a year now, weekday circulation rocketed 73%, to 1,586,757, as digital subscriptions rose to 807,026.

Sunday circulation jumped 50%, to just over 2 million, with digital totaling 737,408.

[Updated at 3:52 p.m. ET with details from NYT story.] Those digital figures may be misleading, however, according to the NYT's story about today's circulation report.

"Under ABC rules," the paper says, "newspapers can count paid digital subscribers more than once if they are accessing digital content on multiple platforms like mobile apps or tablets daily as part of a bundled subscription package. So, for example, while the New York Times Co. announced it had 454,000 subscribers for digital editions of the Times and for The International Herald Tribune, the ABC figure for daily Times digital subscribers was just over 807,000."


  1. Love it! All those moochers who whine about losing free access to our work can suck it.

    They wouldn't throw me a free Big Mac at their job every day, why should we throw our work to the wind for nothing?

  2. a big mac has more sustenance than most Gannett sites I read online.

  3. The issue is content
    NYT has lots of good content -- not to mention a really good website.
    We have no content because we have laid off all but a few of the content producers. And the ones left are young and green.
    When we go to paywalls we MUST have more and better and unique and creative content or people won't subscribe. It's amazing that supposedly smart people in charge of this company don't understand that.

  4. Hey Jim, if you can get a copy of the ABC report that lists all the papers, not just the top list that they make public, and post what all the Gannett papers' figures are, that would be great.

  5. This link right now points to last fall's numbers. I think they haven't updated everything. http://abcas3.accessabc.com/ecirc/newsform.asp

  6. We'll all have access to figures for individual papers once ABC updates its database. Unfortunately, I'm not sure when that will be.

  7. And here's that ABC look-up database, which currently has figures as of Sept. 30, 2011.

  8. Great they are emphasizing the increase in the Sunday Circulation while the daily circulation numbers decline. They have been practically giving the Sunday paper away to subscribers of Saturday, and Sunday only. Know wonder why daily circulation numbers are continuing to decline.

  9. Sunday is Gannett's future: 45% of all U.S. community newspaper advertising revenue comes from that day of the week.

  10. Most of our readers say they buy Sunday papers for the coupons. I guess it's good that they're buying it, but disheartening that it's not for the stories.

  11. Speaking of Sundays, did all the Wisconsin sites have to run the correction for part 2 of the investigative piece that ran Monday?

  12. New York Times Leads Circulation Gains - UP 73%: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-01/new-york-times-leads-circulation-gains-among-newspapers.html?cmpid=yhoo

    At least the story explained that the ABC moved their line in the sand to paint a more positive set of numbers for their masters, har har.

    Still, it goes to show that people will pay for great content (NYT) if it is offered.

  13. Well most papers started out as weeklies and it looks like they will eventually return to a Sunday only weekly paper.

  14. I wonder why the Freep is declining during the week but rising on Sunday, since its pretty hard to get just the Sunday Freep paper... Could it be that more readers are switching to the MediaNews operated Detroit News (which means they get the Sunday Freep included in their subscription)? Should be interesting to see once the full numbers are out.

  15. I see Sunday papers like the Freep have branded editions: ABC gives this definition:

    Branded editions, newspaper-owned products such as commuter, community, alternative-language or Sunday-Select type newspapers, make up 4.5 percent of newspapers’ total average circulation, up from 3.36 percent in March 2011.

    Are these freebies people are getting or paid circulation?Can Jim, anyone else explain them since they seem to be a growing factor in circulation.

  16. For a while, ABC tried to give an honest accounting of circulation. Now they've gone for straight obfuscation. A digital sub does not monetize equally to a print sub.

    Does anyone believe readership of the NY Times is up over 70% . . . or that USAT is down less than one percent? Once publishers figure out their digital future, and growth smooths out, THEN maybe we'll have a true accounting of consumption. Any accountant trying this would be thrown in jail.

    As for the NY Times digital sales . . . the Times is not the norm; nor is WSJ. WSJ has a unique product.

    The Times has consumers to whom price is (mostly) not an object. The Times charges over $10 A WEEK. They raise their rates almost yearly. Doesn't hurt 'em much.

    Most other papers aren't selling to as many decision-makers as does the Times and WSJ. Any broad statement about the newspaper publishing industry ought not include NYT and WSJ. Check out store and product sales for an example of this. The sales cited are true of the industry NOT INCLUDING sales at Walmart.

  17. 11:48 is typical of the posters here. He wants all of the information spoonfed to him. He doesn't want to work to get it! Meanwhile, people here criticize the young staffers.

    Something is amiss at Gannett Blog.

  18. "Something is amiss at Gannett Blog." Yeah. Where there is something amiss, it's mostly denigrating, snarky assumptions like 4:31's, contributing nothing to different views from which all perspectives could learn.

  19. Same here. The street word is that they only buy the paper for the ads/coupons "because they're nothing else in it."

    That conclusion is not entirely true but it's close to the mark. And even if it weren't, that attitude -- that perception -- just didn't happen overnight and should still be a huge concern in a democracy.

    Trouble is, no one cares. The ones that could are gone, laid off, bought out. The ones who can't are just clinging to their jobs.

  20. 11:11, if your work is in Gannett, it's already in the wind for nothing.

    And feeling entitled to charge for nothing might seem brilliant... unless a Web site is essentially so klunky and so devoid of professionalism, that even a pig's ear isn't going to help.

  21. These numbers, and numbers going forward from organization are "suspect." Why? They were and are heading toward extinction and they've given into the declining print media who need new suspicious stats to support their ad sales efforts.

  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  23. USA today has serious quality control issues with the on line content, story selection and little thing like headlines and story display. There should be ongoing sessions on getting most of these folks up to speed. Sloppy, uncaring. its like a bunch of slackers are running things. We're any actual reporters and editors at real publications, or just wannabee copy editors? Going on the cheap has major drawbacks, especially if this is our future.

    Gelman. Do something. Soon.

  24. My site declined by approximately 8percent on Sunday and 12 percent on weekdays. Does not bode well, especially with paywall coming in September.


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