As predicted, the tabloids slipped back after the euphoria of the start of the premiership abated in September. All the tabloids lost their August lustre and now it’s simply a slow decline to the “C” word on the 25th of December.
The Star and Sun are now perilously close to the slipping into the 50’s. Both papers tested those waters briefly earlier in the year only to be saved by the kick of a ball in August. The Star managed to hold on to most of the gains in August whereas The Sun and Mirror were back around 1,500 each on the previous month. But, I’d suggest, if the premier league begins to show a forerunner early in the season, then the appetite for news of the "foreign game" may wane.
I had to double take on these sets of results – so used to the doom and gloom at follows the monthly figures like a bad smell that there was a modicum of disbelief and a measure of self-doubt about my ability to use a spreadsheet.
But, no they are the real deal. In August, ever paper under scrutiny, made month on month gains bar the FT and the Mail on Sunday. I couldn't recall the last time that happened but you can put a lot down to sport. The kick off of the premier league would have helped the tabloids especially who in the morning are up over 4,000. The Championship semi finals in both hurling and football would also have helped them over the line. The Star and The Sun being the big beneficiaries of the new season.
The JNRS Irish newspaper research was released yesterday – without the fanfare that used to be associated with its unveiling some years back. But then it’s only fair to say that some years back some publishers we possibly seeing a growth on their readership year on year.
Since the survey of 2012/3 the readership has been divided between readership of the print edition and a newsbrands digital offering, if they have one. The results are in the tables below and just a few items to point out as I’m not about to glaze over deciphering every nuance in the survey. But I’ll simply go through a few points and leave the speculation for others.
“Ta-da” - the cosmetic adverts catchphrase. I use it mockingly as it heralds the publication, finally, of the ABC’s of the remaining newspapers in the market. Plenty of cosmetics would be needed to make these figures even vaguely attractive.
The total market contacted by 7% over a twelve month period. The market is still 204m newspapers a year, but falling at 7% per annum isn’t a sustainable business model. The morning market is falling faster than the Sunday market and you can have as many hypothesis on that as you like.
The market fell by -6% or 53,000 in twelve months. The Sunday Independent dropped 12,000 over the twelve months to 220,000. The Sunday world lost 13,000 which drops it back to below 200,000 to 198,000. The Sunday Business Post, despite a new look, lost 11% to rest at 34,000.
The Daily Star on Sunday does nothing in the market here and is beginning to reap what is it has sown with an 11% decline year on year. The People outperformed that and dropped 16% of its sales in the year. At head office a decision has been made that the Sunday mirror and Peoples’ editorial is to be merged and might signal the beginning of the end for the title
The morning market slipped back 6% to 463,000 since the audit of Jan-June 2013 and has now dropped 28% since 2000. The brunt of the fall was felt in the ‘red tops’ who collectively have fallen 35% since the millennium whereas the non red-tops have declined by 22%.
The Irish Independent lost 8,700 copies or 7% of its circulation over the year and managed to kept the bulks at 13% the same as last year. The Irish Times managed to stay ahead of the eighty mark but lost 3,800 (-5%) over the same period last year. But, perhaps things could have been worse if the ‘bulks’ hadn't kicked in. The Irish Times increased their bulks from an average of 6,036 last year to 9,014 this time out or 4.2% of sales in 2013 to 11.3% of sales in 2014.
Most of the morning tabloids had a bit of a mini-rally with The Sun and The Mirror gaining month on month. However the Daily Star didn’t figure in the ‘surge’ dropping 150 copies and its first place spot among the redtops as well.
The Daily Mail reports a drop of over 6,000 on the month (-13%) which is a fairly sizeable decrease in a calendar month but much of that could be down to a reduction in their Multiple Copy Sales figure which dropped by over 3,000 month on month. The rest of the mornings are minimal in terms of movement and reporting worth.
This month sees The Sun and The Daily Star dip below the sixty marks and the Mirror roots itself solidly into the forties. I’ve never made any bones about it – but I’m a huge fan of tabloids, but by no means a tabloid apologist when they over step the mark – as they have on numerous occasions.
The dip this month is particularly worrying for that group of papers. I appreciate dropping below sixty is purely psychological, but it has the ability to affect people within a struggling news brand. Selling a publication with a circulation of (say) 61,000 is marginally easier than selling one with a circulation of 59,000! The three tabloids are down 14,000 on the year an there seems to be no letup in the pace of their decline. Furthermore, I’d suggest that there no real fall-back for them – the tabloid reader doesn’t do digital as seen in the numerous NRS surveys in the UK.
Nothing spectacular happened in May – the end of the premier league and the beginning of the Football and Hurling championship (and therefore order being resorted to the world!).
The ABC’s were equally less than spectacular and continued along the same lines as normal. The Daily Mirror stepped into dangerous territory, dropping below the 50k mark. It had dipped there before in December, but that’s allowed given the season etc.The Daily Star managed to keep ahead of The Sun by a slim 82 copies, dropping 900 copies in the month and the latter picking up 300.
The NRS readership data was released today and it shows definite patterns emerging in UK readership data. The research covers April 13 to March 14 and combines the traditional face-to-face research to determine the ‘print’ element and comscore data to determine the web portion of the research.
The first item you’ll notice is the proliferation of minuses in the Print /- column showing the decline in print readership in the past twelve months with the Guardian group falling the most. The rest of the qualities managed to save some face – but only relative to the Guardian fall.
Tracking the social media element of news publications yields some interesting results. Looking at the infamous Facebook likes and fans shows that the papers are making an effort on that front recruiting fans on a daily basis.
Tracking this back to June of last year you can see that the Irish Times had the jump on the Independent, but the latter hunted them down over the year and is now only just over 10,000 behind. Both papers are adding fans at about 20% per month in the recent past. *
What’s really interesting is the approach adopted by each publication on Facebook. Their post types differ wildly in each case (according to www.quintly.com which does the spadework for me on this one). 95% of the Independent’s posts are photo based whereas 85% of the Irish Times posts are links but to the naked eye the pages look very similar, it’s just the approach that differs (table below shows the numbers between mid April and mid May)
*July 2014: I thought I'd update the graph below as The Irish Independent did finally manage to get the jump in The Irish Times.
April was a very busy month with a few big sporting events and Easter and all that it brings. Easter is not the kindest for newspapers with the daily papers opting to exclude the 18th and 21st (Good Friday and Easter Monday) from their month’s total and the Sundays opting to exclude the 20th.
The tabloids would have been helped with Aintree and, to a lesser extent, the National League Final. The Daily Star added 1,700 and the Mirror 400 odd, The Sun on the other hand dropped 131 copies – all on the previous month. In fact the tabloids we up just over 2,000 on the month but 12,000 behind year on year. The Daily Mail, not reliant on Aintree of the National League, was down 800 copies on the month.
The Sunday tabloids were down 4,000 on the previous month and remembering that they were only counting three editions which might add to the volatility. The big faller this month was the Sunday Times mislaying nearly 8,000 copies or 8% on the previous month and down over 12,000 on the year. The Mail on Sunday was more or less unchanged but down 7,000 on the year.
|Title||Apr-14||Apr-13||Mar-14||Y/Y||M/M||% Ch Y/Y|
|Irish Daily Star||62,080||66,804||60,327||-4,724||1,753||-7.1%|
|Irish Daily Mail||50,023||50,911||50,901||-888||-878||-1.7%|
|The Daily Telegraph||2,768||2,895||2,656||-127||112||-4.4%|
|Daily Star - Sunday||19,060||22,060||19,468||-3,000||-408||-13.6%|
|The Mail on Sunday||100,157||107,333||100,128||-7,176||29||-6.7%|
|Independent on Sunday|
|The Sunday Telegraph||2,370||2,554||2,567||-184||-197||-7.2%|
|The Sunday Times||89,173||98,864||96,732||-9,691||-7,559||-9.8%|
March brings a bit of good news for the tabloids in the form of Cheltenham, which always manages to lift sales for them. However going on the past, this boost will be short-lived and April will bring a dose of reality to a beleaguered market.
The big winner this month was the Daily Star gaining close to 2,000 copies and it looks like it was at the expense of the Daily Mirror, who had a fairly disastrous Cheltenham month falling nearly 1,000 on February. The Daily Mail is obviously not a “punters paper” and never really held itself out as such: it dropped 2,500 on the month.
Nothing eventful happened in the Sunday market bar a decent increase for the Sunday Times gaining 2,300. Outside that, the market is up 1,300 but down 47,000 on the year.
|Title||Mar-14||Mar-13||Feb-14||Y/Y||M/M||% Ch Y/Y|
|Irish Daily Star||63,087||68,518||61,121||-5,431||1,966||-8%|
|Irish Daily Mail||47,472||53,198||50,009||-5,726||-2,537||-11%|
|The Daily Telegraph||2,656||2,832||2,636||-176||20||-6%|
|Daily Star - Sunday||19,468||22,326||20,210||-2,858||-742||-13%|
|The Mail on Sunday||100,461||108,683||100,086||-8,222||375||-8%|
|Independent on Sunday||0||0|
|The Sunday Telegraph||2,567||2,765||2,570||-198||-3||-7%|
|The Sunday Times||96,732||101,915||94,372||-5,183||2,360||-5%|
The lift the papers got in January is well gone now and some of the publications dripped significantly. The Mirror dropped 2,900 copies (-5% on the month) leaving it at just over 51,000. The Irish Daily Star now at 61,000 whilst The Sun is down to 60,000 - down 7% on the year, The Star down 9%. The Morning are down 18,000 year on year and 8,000 on the month.
In the Sundays, the News of the World went against the trend and added over 1,000 month on month. The decision to continue trying to flog the People in the Republic looks an erroneous one at this stage with sales down to 14,000.
The Sundays stayed the same as last month but are 28,000 down in twelve months.
% Ch Y/Y
Irish Daily Star
Irish Daily Mail
The Daily Telegraph
Daily Star - Sunday
The Mail on Sunday
Independent on Sunday
The Sunday Telegraph
The Sunday Times