Monday, December 10, 2012

USAT | Circulation losses vary widely by region

USA Today's circulation losses have gotten wide publicity. But less well known is the fact losses swung by considerably different rates among the paper's 24 U.S. markets, according to an analysis of the paper's latest published data.

Monday-Thursday circulation fell 2.24% to 1.73 million as of September 2011 from a year before, according to the daily's published advertising rate cards for the two periods

But in six markets, led by Seattle and Dallas, circulation declined by more than twice that rate. Seattle's fell 18.2%, to 41,386. Dallas dropped 13.1%, to 74,406. Meanwhile, circulation rose by double digits in two markets: Houston and Kansas City. (See this spreadsheet showing all 24 markets.)

It's important to note that, while the markets are named for cities or regions, they encompass much larger areas.

For example, Seattle covers Washington and Oregon states plus Idaho's Panhandle. Dallas is the upper two-thirds of Texas, most of Oklahoma and Arkansas and a little of Louisiana. (See the map on Page 12 of the current rate card.)

Changes in press capacity?
The rate cards don't call out the market-by-market variations; they're only apparent when the 2011 and 2012 cards are compared. Nor are the uneven losses easily explained; they may simply reflect changes in available press capacity at regional press sites rather than, say, shifts in consumer demand.

There were similar disparities in Friday circulation, which is higher than the other days because those editions are sold over the weekend.

Sales fell 3.2%, to 1.98 million as of September 2011 vs. a year before. Losses were twice that rate in three markets: Seattle, 23.2%, and Dallas, 13.4%, plus Philadelphia, 10.8%.


  1. It is a mediocre product managed by overpaid, mediocre managers. Six months from now, we will see the folly of the appointment of 10 managing editors and 3 executive editors making $200,000 or much more a year. We will see the folly of a laughably redesigned print produc. We will see the folly Banikarim's marketing/advertising restructuring. We will see Kramer hike up his short man jeans and getting the axe out.

    Digital is faring far worse, Jim.

  2. In looking at this spreadsheet, it is not really clear that we are talking about specific newspapers, just "markets."

    I wonder, for example, about Cincy. Surely, the Enquirer daily circ cannot be just 66,500 or so. It just can't be that low. It just can't.

    I have seen it listed at more than 140,000... and if this is Sunday, the E&P claim of 140,000 is deceptive, at best.

    After all, this circ number is the basis of paid inserts, where the paper really makes its money.

  3. This is 4:46 again... never mind.... I get it now!! It is the USA Today circ in these markets....

    That's different.... (but not a whole lot better!)

  4. This looks to be 2010 vs 2011, right before the announcement of GPS.

  5. USAT is in more trouble than most people realize. I look for big changes -- not just new logos and games of musical chairs. Within a relatively short period of time, USAT's newsroom will be shrunk even more and the product will be more narrow in scope. It will have to be. USAT will not have the horses to keep doing what it's doing, and failing each and every quarter. There is only two reasons to be at USAT if you aren't one of the execs making the big bucks. First, you need to get your feet wet in the business. Second, you are a year or two away from retirement. If you're there because you think you have a long future in Tysons Corner, think again. Look around. Lots of blood stains everywhere. Lots of evidence that things aren't getting better. Sure, you might be the rare exception and could be there another 10-20 years, but it isn't likely. You'll either get burned out or fired. You will kick yourself for not leaving when you could.

  6. 4:46/4:54, that was dumb. Really dumb. At least you came back and admitted it.

    7:54, good of you to add to the daily pile of "You should quit now" posts.

  7. You should be completely rendered miserable over what the product has become. But think of your job as dues paying and learning what NOT to do. Like at Usa Today, where circus carneys blather about how great things are and editors totally out of their element make decisions that have little basis in reality. Many of the $200k + managers are at cross purposes with each other, anglimg for wven more crumbs and power. It is laughable that these 'journalists' have no clue over the digital operation or even protocol for publishing to the web.

    Eventually, someone will come to their senses and ask the question many of us have wondered for a while. How do they justify their jobs? Then think of the money we will start saving when someone in charge looks to trim the truly not needed. If jim had some blue balls

  8. He would start making a list and checking it twice.

  9. Here, on one hand, is Jim again posting a very interesting item on USAT circulation that merits close reading and an interesting, followup discussion. On the other hand again we see the bloviating, daily rants that infest this blog. We get it: You're miserable and you want to share. Please do it someplace else.

  10. USA Today? Is that rag still around?


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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