New York Times circulation up 40% as newspaper numbers generally flat

New York Times | ABC
The latest report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations finds that daily circulation for the nation’s newspapers was down 0.2 percent compared to the same period last year. Sunday circulation was up 0.6 percent.

There were some notable exceptions. The New York Times reported a 40 percent increase in Monday-Friday circulation, driven by digital subscription packages, with a 28 percent increase in Sunday circulation over the same time last year. The Times now has about 25 percent more digital subscribers during the week than print subscribers. On Sundays, print subscriptions still exceed digital.

Print circulation of the Times, the paper reports, actually dropped during the six-month period ending September 30, 2012. Monday-Friday circulation was down 6.9 percent and Sunday circulation was down 1.8 percent was compared to last year.

The Times is not the only paper shifting to a more heavily digital mix, as Rick Edmonds’ analysis explains. ABC reports that “digital circulation now accounts for 15.3 percent of newspapers’ total circulation mix, up from 9.8 percent in September 2011.”

The Times reported a 73 percent circulation gain earlier this year. And the company’s latest earnings report noted a digital subscriber base of 592,000, an 11 percent increase over the second quarter.

Average Circulation at the Top 5 U.S. Daily Newspapers
News organization Print Total digital Total avg circ (9/30/12) Total avg circ (9/30/11) % change
Wall Street Journal 1,499,204 794,594 2,293,798 2,096,169 9.4%
USA Today 1,627,526 86,307 1,713,833 1,784,242 -3.9%
The New York Times 717,513 896,352 1,613,865 1,150,589 40.3%
LA Times 454,498 151,577 641,369 572,998 11.9%
NY Daily News 383,835 146,605 535,875 605,677 11.5%

Of the top 25 papers, these saw the largest gains in daily circulation:

  • Newark Star-Ledger, up 48.1 percent
  • New York Times, up 40.3 percent
  • Tampa Bay Times, up 30.4 percent
  • Honolulu Star-Advertiser, up 26.3 percent
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer, up 20.5 percent

Of the top 25 papers, these saw the largest losses in daily circulation:

  • Houston Chronicle, down 11.9 percent
  • New York Daily News, down 11.5 percent
  • Philadelphia Inquirer, down 10.5 percent
  • The Washington Post, down 8.9 percent
  • Arizona Republic, down 5.9 percent
Average Circulation at the Top 5 U.S. Sunday Newspapers
News organization Print Total digital Total avg circ (9/30/12) Total avg circ (9/30/11) % change
The New York Times 1,250,077 850,816 2,100,893 1,645,152 27.7%
Houston Chronicle 411,751 71,514 1,070,290 911,564 17.4%
Los Angeles Times 809,176 153,016 962,192 905,920 6.2%
Chicago Tribune 733,981 32,580 766,561 781,128 -1.9%
Dallas Morning News 296,466 64,774 700,649 374,653 87%

Of the top 25 papers, these saw the largest gains in Sunday circulation:

  • Dallas Morning News, up 87 percent
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution, up 43 percent
  • Newark Star-Ledger, up 32.6 percent
  • New York Times, up 27.7 percent
  • Houston Chronicle, up 17.4 percent

Of the top 25 papers, these saw the largest losses in Sunday circulation:

  • The Washington Post, down 20.2 percent
  • Tampa Bay Times, down 5.9 percent
  • San Diego Union-Tribune, down 4.6 percent
  • Philadelphia Inquirer, down 2.9 percent
  • Orange County Register, down 2.6 percent

The good news: The Newark Star-Ledger, owned by Advance, saw significant circulation increases for the second reporting period in a row. The Dallas Morning News had a Sunday circulation increase for the second period in a row and landed in the top five this period, edging out The Washington Post. The Houston Chronicle had Sunday circulation increases for the second period in a row and moved from third place last reporting period to second this period. However, Houston also had one of the largest weekday circulation drops this period.

The bad news: The Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer both had significant circulation drops for the second reporting period in a row. A portion of The Washington Post’s drop on Sundays is a result of changes in how branded editions are counted. Taking that into consideration, the Sunday drop is about 7 percent, not 20 percent.

Interestingly, three of the five biggest Sunday circulation losers — the U-T, Inquirer and Register — were sold in the last year. The Tampa Bay Times is owned by Poynter.

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