Combined UK Newspaper Readership

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Very interesting figures were released today for UK newspapers, but still have to have some information in them that might be useful to see the direction of the whole industry – from a numeric standpoint as opposed to an emotive one.

Their National Readership Survey figures were released today but there surveys are streets ahead of the Irish model as it combines (and has for some time) the readership of a print product and its online product.

The print product is surveyed through the historic face-to-face questionnaire method and the online portion is sampled by ComScore. In the latter, demographic data is matched on online users to make it dovetail into the face-to-face data.

Combining the two sets of data you get the “brand footprint” of a particular publication (although it currently cannot track mobile or tablet data – which I would feel would be critical data for online versions of newspapers and magazines).

So, what’s the deal.. well, it shows that, depending on the publication, the overall footprint can dramatically increase depending on the effort they have put in online and naturally, the draw a publication has online.

A ‘title’, and this is where we get into semantics, can be in the lower pecking orders in terms of it readership of its printed product, but when the data for the online readership is added, it can have a meteoric impact on it’s standings.

Take for example the Guardian, in print readership terms, it stands in the table below at 17th but if you add their digital signature to the print one, they suddenly catapult to 3rd most read newspaper brand – combining print and digital.

Some titles and publishers make great gains adding the digital data. Again taking the Guardian as an example, it more than doubles its readership adding the digital metric. Others however don’t do well at all. The Sunday Times and Times manage to increase readership by just 3% adding the digital data. Considering they were fairly pioneering with digital it’s a low figure.

But that’s a little unfair on the Times! Add to the mix that they run a paywall and that most of those digital readers will be paid subscribers – then those numbers look much more attractive. More chased, I’d suggest, than the 1.4m digital freeloaders the Guardian manages to attract!

The figures are a great insight into the market today. But they still leave many questions unanswered.  

Will the advertising community take cognisance of these figures or do they care? If they are advertising on a publisher’s site and are getting a reasonable ROI – what does it matter?

The fact that papers behind a paywall are measured alongside non-paywall publications distorts the metrics I think.

Is there a future at all for Tabloids in a digital world? Their numbers are very poor, none making double digits with their online proportion. Tabloids, whilst having a decent pull in the print editions seem not to be able to transfer that to their online offering. It could be down to demographics and, therefore, opportunity to see the online version that’s killing them.

Title Freq Print Web Print + Web Total (Net) Website Only Increase with Online
Print Title(s) (Print) 000s 000s 000s 000s % %
Financial Times D 319 59 377 57 18% 15.7%
The Daily Telegraph D 1346 1025 2301 955 71% 44.6%
The Daily/ Sunday Telegraph D/S 1422 1025 2374 952 67% 43.2%
The Guardian D 1050 1401 2304 1254 119% 60.8%
The Guardian/The Observer D/S 1123 1401 2370 1246 111% 59.1%
The Independent D 490 283 764 273 56% 37.1%
The Independent/unday D/S 524 283 797 273 52% 35.5%
The Independent/TSunday/i D/S/D 1089 283 1356 266 24% 20.9%
The Times D 1311 40 1348 37 3% 3.0%
The Times/The Sunday Times D/S 1570 52 1618 48 3% 3.2%
Daily Express D 1192 27 1218 26 2% 2.2%
Daily Express/Sunday Express D/S 1330 27 1357 26 2% 2.0%
Daily Mail D 4258 2786 6678 2420 57% 41.7%
Daily Mail/The Mail on Sunday D/S 4530 2786 6932 2402 53% 40.2%
Daily Mirror D 2995 315 3291 296 10% 9.6%
Daily Mirror/Sunday Mirror D/S 3189 315 3482 292 9% 9.0%
Daily /Sunday/The People D/S/S 3295 315 3587 292 9% 8.8%
Daily Record D 809 70 877 68 8% 8.0%
Daily Record/Sunday Mail D/S 856 70 924 67 8% 7.6%
Daily Star D 1358 21 1378 20 1% 1.5%
Daily Star/Daily Star Sunday D/S 1396 21 1416 20 1% 1.5%
The Sun D 7007 503 7385 378 5% 6.8%


The INMA, in an article in March 2012 suggest that the adoption of digital in a market depends on the markets access to technology and the strength of the markets middle class. I’d argue that the same rules apply to an individual paper. If a publications (print) readers have low access to technology then they are fighting a losing battle. Similarly, many studies have shown that the middle classes and upward are the adaptors of technology. So, if a publication has low numbers in those cohorts, it will find it a difficult transition to digital.

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