Irish Newspaper Circulation July-Dec 2017 Island of Ireland Report

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We have thirteen National titles available for selection every morning and twelve to choose from every Sunday. The figures here are the circulations of national newspapers for the period of July to December 2017 and are compared to the same six months in 2016.

The stark reality is that in the intervening period, the newspapers below sold ten million fewer copies per annum in comparison to the previous year. Interestingly five years ago five titles managed to sell more than 100,000 copies, today this stands at two.

The total market (sum of the daily and Sunday circulation) decline slowed to 7%, down from showing an annual 8% decline. A darker side of Sherlock Holmes (I digress) manifests itself into his fondness of ‘the seven percent solution’ – the darker side here, today, is that we’ve no solution to the 7%!

The Sunday market fell below 600,000 (-7%) for the first time and the morning market receded back to 408,000 (-6%).

2017 overall


The Irish Independent sailed perilously close to dropping below 90,000 falling 7% over the year. In that figure are 17,600 in bulks which is an actively purchased of 80% of its circulation down from 17% in the last six months of 2016. It means with a higher rate of bulks coupled with a falling circulation, their reliance on bulks is becoming very weighty indeed. Their certificate shows that they had 2,700 subscribers to their digital offering, all at full rate.

The Irish Times fell 8% to 61,000 down 5,200 on the year. There are 6,300 bulks in that number which equates to an actively purchased rate of 90% – about in line with last year. Their digital subs now stand at 17,000 which is around a 4,000 increase on the previous year. Therefore, the headline statistic of an 8% fall in (print) circulation for the title has to be tempered with the 4,000 increase in digital.

The Examiner fell by 8.3% to 27,500 and it has practically no bulks or a number for digital subscribers.

Publication JD 2017 JD 2016 Diff ‘000 Diff %
Irish Independent 90,107 97,104 -6,997 -7.2%
Irish Times 61,049 66,251 -5,202 -7.9%
Examiner 27,589 30,090 -2,501 -8.3%
Daily Mirror 32,055 35,767 -3,712 -10.4%
Irish Daily Star 48,686 50,732 -2,046 -4.0%
The Sun 56,488 58,531 -2,043 -3.5%
Tabloids 137,230 145,030 -7,801 -5.4%
Daily Express 2,483 2,573 -91 -3.5%
Irish Daily Mail 37,523 42,077 -4,554 -10.8%
Daily Telegraph 2,096 2,336 -240 -10.3%
Financial Times 2,273 2,336 -63 -2.7%
Guardian 2,152 2,323 -171 -7.3%
The Times 10,111 2,764 7,347 265.8%
The Herald 36,097 40,847 -4,750 -11.6%
Total 408,710 433,731 -25,021 -5.8%

The tabloid sector of the market took the full force of the downturn when taken as a homogeneous group when their rate of decline was in or around 9% p.a. and the non-tabloid portion of the market was around 5%. Coupled with this, their market share dropped from a height of 45% (about 2003) to its current 37% share.

Currently, The Sun is the highest circulating tabloid in Ireland at 56,400 down 3.5% on July-Dec 2016 followed by The Daily Star with 48,600 down 4%. The Daily Mirror turned in 32,000 down 10% on their 2016 figure.

On the horizon for the tabloid sector is the offer by Trinity Mirror to buy the assets of Northern Shell (Daily Star, Star Sunday and Express Titles). The sale will have to be cleared by the various competition authorities – on either side of the water – and the issue of IN&M’s interest in the Irish Daily Star might be up for review in 2018.

The Daily Mail stands at 37,500 or down 10% on the last six month of 2016. Looking at the near past of the publication, and its sister Sunday, there may have been a change of direction for the two titles. In the January 2018 certificates they had no bulks in their figure and if this continues next month it will reduce their circulation for 2018.

The Times (Irish Edition) is showing an increase in circulation of 7,300 copies over the year which has to be tempered with many, many grains of salt. Their focus on the Irish market with a tailored Irish edition has made inroads. Prior to the Irish edition, the paper sold around 2,700 per day and would now sell (cash from pocket) 4,300 every day. The extra 5,700 copies to get them over the 10,000 mark here are down to bulks.


Four titles in the Sunday marked circulate less than 10,000 copies every Sunday and will be glossed over in this exercise.

The Sunday Independent is down 13,200 (-7%) to 178,000. Their actively purchased number is 93% the same as 2016. They also have a digital certificate for 2,800 subscribers.

The Sunday World fell 10% or 15,600 to 134,000. They don’t dabble in the black art of bulks and have no digital subscribers.

The Sunday Business Post did well in comparison to other titles managing to stem the fall to a mere 3% to leave them at 29,600.

The Mail on Sunday dropped back 5,400 over the year and the Sunday Times, even with a new found love of the bulks managed to drop 3,000. The Sunday Sun is down to 53,000 a reduction of 2,500.

The People wins the accolade of the worst performing title in terms of percentage decline falling 13% over the year, The Herald taking second place at 12%. Sunday Mirror fell 9% to 22,000.