Irish Newspaper Circulation Jan-June 2019 Island of Ireland Report

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Independent News and Media decided to ‘to resign its titles from ABC membership’ and therefore will not be reporting ABC figure for the current Island of Ireland report. Given that 22% of the reporting numbers in the daily market have vanished and 53% of the reporting numbers of the Sunday market have also disappeared it makes this report a ‘busted flush’.

But in the spirit of stoicism (and as a hat tip to those publications that value audited metrics) I’ll press on with what remnants of data I have to hand. Overall year on year comparatives are meaningless at this point but I’ll ‘rebase’ them to reflect the bundles that we still have.

The Sunday Business Post turned in a circulation of 25,740 which is a decline of 10% on the first six months of 2018. Their digital subscribers (not included in the 25K) were 3,073 which represents a 6% increase on the previous year. Their multiple copy sales represent about 16% of the total circulation figure. Their subscription and their digital sales are probably lower than where they should be for Ireland’s self-titled ‘economic newspaper’.

PublicationJJ 2019JJ 2018Diff '000Diff %
Sunday Independent176,580
Sunday World130,083
Sunday Business Post25,74028,701-2,961-10.3%
Daily Star Sunday11,51414,611-3,097-21.2%
The Sun (Sunday)45,08052,647-7,567-14.4%
Irish Sunday Mirror19,34621,181-1,835-8.7%
The People7,0507,753-703-9.1%
Sunday Express2,5752,739-164-6.0%
Mail on Sunday58,39862,725-4,327-6.9%
The Observer4,0164,217-201-4.8%
Sunday Telegraph1,4621,605-143-8.9%
Sunday Times68,94975,138-6,190-8.2%
Total (ex IN&M)244,130271,317-27,187-10.0%

By far the worst performer in the market was the Daily Star on Sunday falling 21% on the year to 11,500. We must keep in mind that that’s from a very low base in the first place and that the title makes no effort to court an Irish audience.

The Sunday on Sun fell 14%, ‘on paper’, but much of that was down to a change in policy year on year concerning ‘bulks’. The first-half figures for 2018 carry around 2,500 of bulks every day whereas the same period in 2019 carries none. But taking them out still sees the paper showing an underlying decline of about 10%.

The Irish Sunday Mirror lost 9% and, in the process, managed to fall below the 20k mark. Stablemate The People dropped 9% and was very near falling below 7,000. You can only speculate as to where the ‘red line’ is for the paper in terms of economics and maintaining a presence in the Irish market at sales of less than 7,000.

The Mail on Sunday is at 58,000 – and that’s the figure that can be compared to all the other papers in the report, taking in the sales of the paper on the whole of the Island of Ireland (inc N.I). In the past, certain ‘analysis’ used the figure for the Republic of Ireland only when reporting the Mails’ numbers. It’s disingenuous at best if repeated.

Stripping out the numbers for IN&M the Sunday papers left in the audit are showing a collective drop of 10% year on year.

Daily Market

The Irish Times figure came in at 56,518, a decrease of 6% on the year. Their multiples are 12% of circulation roughly in line with last year. They also have a healthy 22,500 digital subscribers which is a 4% increase on last year. It’s far from the growth rate they had experienced in previous reports, but at least it’s some form of growth.

The Examiner had a circulation of 24,574 a decline of 6% year on year so ahead of the market decline. No bulks or digital subscriptions to talk of. Stablemate The Echo had a circulation of 8,439 down 6% on the previous year. Similarly, no bulks or digital numbers.

PublicationJJ 2019JJ 2018Diff '000Diff %
Irish Independent87,673
Irish Times56,51860,352-3,834-6.4%
Daily Mirror27,55430,024-2,470-8.2%
Irish Daily Star41,64846,808-5,160-11.0%
The Sun49,28556,206-6,922-12.3%
Daily Express2,1662,306-141-6.1%
Irish Daily Mail27,95931,710-3,751-11.8%
Daily Telegraph1,8451,911-65-3.4%
Financial Times2,1872,206-19-0.9%
The Times4,3087,328-3,021-41.2%
The Herald28,940
Total (ex IN&M)366,948408,947-41,999-10.3%

The tabloids fell roughly in line with the market. However, the figure for The Sun must be put in context. Between 2018 and 2019 there was a change of policy and The Sun carries no bulks now. So, the comparison is between one figure with bulks and one without, distorts things. If you strip out the bulks from 2018, then decline for The Sun would show a fall of about 8% in core sales.

The Daily Mail fell by 12% and the Express by 6%. The Telegraph, FT and Guardian would seem to have hard-core purchasers with the papers seeing minimal declines over the year, taking the low base into account.

The Times figure also needs some explanation. The 41% decline is an ‘accounting decline and like other publications in the News UK stable, The Times all but killed their use of bulks in 2019. The circulation here is that of The Times Ireland Edition which ceased publication in June 2019 with the July 2019 figure being the first since reverting to shipping in the UK edition like before.

Again stripping out the IN&M numbers from last year the papers remaining are showing a decline of 10% on the year.