Circulation

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A hidden success story — for newspaper circulation, costs are down and revenues are up

To the widely accepted notion that the newspaper business is going to hell in a bucket, here is a curious exception: circulation revenues (and profits) have risen over the last several years at the same time expenses have been substantially reduced.

The particulars of the case are laid out in the 15th edition of a data-heavy Newspaper of Association of America report, Circulation Facts and Figures, released this week (free to NAA members only).

Among 175 papers responding to a NAA survey, the median “bottom-line contribution” of circulation had risen from 42.6 percent in 2011 to 56.1 percent last year. That’s not the same thing as a profit margin — since circulation (like advertising) must produce revenues well above that department’s operating expenses to carry other parts of the enterprise like the newsroom and pressroom. Read more

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Worldwide newspaper circulation revenues pass advertising for the first time

wanifra
Last year circulation revenues inched ahead of advertising for the world’s newspapers, according to a report out today from the trade group WAN-IFRA.

For 2014, circulation generated $92 billion compared to $87 billion for advertising, according to a world press trends survey released as WAN-IFRA begins its annual World Congress meeting in Washington.

“The basic assumption of the news business model — the subsidy that advertisers have long provided to news content — is gone…,” Larry Kilman, secretary-general of WAN-IFRA, commented in a release. “This is a seismic shift from a strong business-to-business emphasis – publishers to advertisers – to a growing business-to-consumer emphasis, publishers to audiences.”

The circulation-ad split varies around the world.  Some European and Asian papers, with high single-copy prices and a reliance on newsstand sales, have been 50-50 for years. Read more

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R.I.P. — Six month newspaper circulation reports are gone for good

Alliance for Audited Media logo

Alliance for Audited Media logo

Compulsive calendar watchers may have notice that May 1 has come and gone without the typical report on newspaper circulation averages for the six months ended March 31.

There isn’t such a report and won’t be.

Instead the Alliance for Audited Media is requiring newspapers to report quarterly and giving them the option of updating digital metrics monthly.

The first of the new format quarterly reports are available on AAM’s website and others will be uploaded over the next several weeks, according to Neal Lulofs, executive vice president for marketing and strategy.

The so-called Consolidated Media Reports aim to offer more detailed and more up to date information.  Of course, they include paid digital subscriptions and other variations like free Sunday distribution of coupon packets without the news to selected zip codes. Read more

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USA Today, WSJ, NYT top U.S. newspapers by circulation

Alliance for Audited Media

The Alliance for Audited Media issued its last-ever six-month circulation report today. Here are the top newspapers in the U.S., by total average circulation in September 2014:

  1. USA Today (4,139,380)
  2. The Wall Street Journal (2,276,207)
  3. The New York Times (2,134,150)

AAM is discontinuing the print report in favor of more detailed, more frequent reports on individual titles. This edition doesn’t include comparisons to previous totals, which is kind, in a way, as rule changes have made comparisons to past performance, or other publications, increasingly difficult.

A peek behind those great numbers shows why. Let’s start with USA Today, whose Monday-Friday total average circulation rocketed 43 percent, from 2,876,586 to 4,139,380. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation dropped 17 percent over September 2013, from 1,316,865 to 1,083,200. Read more

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Reporter declines to reapply for her job, gets laid off

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Reporter declines to reapply for her job, gets laid off Burlington Free Press reporter Lynn Monty decided not to consummate the process of reapplying for her job last week. The Free Press, like many other Gannett papers, has asked staffers to reapply for jobs in reimagined “newsrooms of the future.” “I loved my job, but I don’t love Gannett,” Monty tells Paul Heintz. “I will make a new way for myself that doesn’t compromise my integrity.” (Seven Days)
  2. The last circulation report The Alliance for Audited Media will release its final print Snapshot report today. Because of more rule changes, “we advise against comparing year-over-year data,” AAM cautions. (AAM) | I wrote last October about how some other recent rules made comparisons difficult.
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Ben Bradlee is receiving hospice care

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. ESPN asks dudes to address domestic violence: A two-hour pregame show preceding Monday Night Football will feature, among other things, a panel discussion featuring 11 men, Ben Collins reports. “When the show has updates from the field—brief reports about injuries and the upcoming game—they’ll cut to female sideline reporters, Lisa Salters and, on some weeks, Suzy Kolber. ¶ These people are not allowed at the table.” (Esquire) | UPDATE, 12:39 P.M.: ESPN says no such panel is planned. (Deadspin)
  2. Ben Bradlee is getting hospice care: The former Washington Post editor has dementia, his wife, Sally Quinn, said in a C-SPAN interview broadcast Sunday. (Politico) | “[O]ver time, his condition became more difficult to manage.” (WP)
  3. Reporting is dangerous: Indian journalist Rajdeep Sardesai was harassed outside Madison Square Garden Sunday, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke.
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Digital editions up slightly at U.S. magazines

AAM

Digital edition circulation rose at U.S. magazines in the first half of 2014, according to the Alliance for Audited Media’s most recent report. But digital editions represented only 3.8 percent of total circulation, compared with 3.3 percent in June 2013. Paid subscriptions fell nearly 2 percent, AAM’s Neal Lulofs writes. Single copy sales fell about 12 percent.

AARP The Magazine and the AARP Bulletin were the top magazines in the U.S. Both saw circulation gains. Circulation at Game Informer Magazine, the fourth-biggest title, fell 9 percent, but was still relatively massive: 7,099,452. GameStop owns Game Informer and bundles subscriptions to it with the chain’s paid loyalty card, Michael Sebastian reported last year.

The Top 10 magazines (and their total paid, verified, analyzed and non-paid circulation):

  1. AARP The Magazine (22,837,736, up 4.1 percent)
  2. AARP Bulletin (22,183,316, up 2.2 percent)
  3. Better Homes and Gardens (7,639,661, up .2 percent)
  4. Game Informer Magazine (7,099,452, down 9.3 percent)
  5. Good Housekeeping (4,315,330, down 1.9 percent)
  6. Family Circle (4,015,728, flat)
  7. National Geographic (3,572,348, down 10.7 percent)
  8. People (3,510,533, down .9 percent)
  9. Reader’s Digest (3,393,573, down 35.3 percent)
  10. Woman’s Day (3,288,335, down 3.1 percent)

Some news magazine stats:

  • Time‘s circulation was down about half a percentage point, to 3,286,467.
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Circulation revenue rises at Gannett’s local papers

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 (OK, perhaps slightly more than 10) media stories.

  1. Gannett had a good second quarter: Broadcast revenue was “almost 88 percent higher in the quarter compared to the second quarter last year.” Publishing advertising revenue fell about 5 percent; circulation was roughly flat, and “At local domestic publishing sites, home delivery circulation revenue was up in the quarter due, in part, to strategic pricing actions associated with enhanced content.” (Gannett)
  2. Washington Post fights the “wonk wars”: The Washington Post’s new “Storyline” project is “dedicated to the power of stories to help us understand complicated, critical things,” Editor Jim Tankersley writes. (The Washington Post) | Michael Calderone takes a look: “It’s unlikely The Post would’ve launched a project like Storyline a few years ago.” (HuffPost) | Tankersley writes that as a college student he was inspired by Richard Read‘s 1998 series about french fries: “Those stories brought the crisis home in a way no textbook or straight news piece could, because at each step, they showed how global trends touched people’s lives and livelihoods.” (The Oregonian)
  3. Why corrupt politicians should avoid Vermont: Vermont has the best-covered legislature in the country, and California has the worst, Pew finds.
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An employee at the St. Paul Pioneer Press printing plant loads a cart with Tuesday's first edition Monday night, Jan. 30, 2006 in St. Paul, Minn. The Pioneer Press is a Knight Ridder paper. Newspaper publisher Knight Ridder Inc., which is actively considering a possible sale of the company, reported a 22 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings from the same period a year ago, which included earnings from newspapers the company no longer owns in Detroit and Tallahassee, Fla. But the results topped analysts expectations. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Digital circulation figures are an absolute mess

We’ve written quite a bit at Poynter about how newspaper circulation numbers are basically meaningless now. The Alliance for Audited Media tries to provide a helpful framework for reporting digital readership, but the ways we consume news are so varied that it’s tough to nail down exactly what should count.

AAM acknowledges as much, cautioning against reading too much into overall circulation figures, particularly when it comes to generating top 10 lists and such (the organization itself stopped publishing a top 25 list last year). But that doesn’t keep newspapers from celebrating misleading numbers to whatever extent they can, so it didn’t stop me from trying to figure out if the numbers obscure some troubling trends. Read more

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NYT’s big circulation gains include copies of international edition

Average Monday-Friday circulation at The New York Times was 15 percent higher for the six months ending March 2014 than it was in the same period the year before, new figures from the Alliance for Audited Media say. But that figure includes 126,162 branded editions, which AAM rules allow newspapers to roll in alongside print and digital circulation. (A branded edition could be a total market coverage publication containing coupons, for example, or a Spanish-language edition.)

The Times has never before included branded editions in its circulation totals, Times spokesperson Linda Zebian told Poynter in an email. Those figures “are comprised of the International New York Times, and are included in the circulation for every day except Sunday,” Zebian wrote.

Subtract those and the gain is a little more than 8 percent. Read more

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