Whilst recent analysis looking at the growth of online news consumption paints a positive overall picture for newsbrands, ABC circulation figures for May show print continues to decline.


As everyone in the industry is aware, print is in a downward trend; year on year losses were expected. With 7 in 10 Brits owning a smartphone, new consumers are naturally turning to (mostly) free and readily accessible online sources for their daily fix of current affairs. In response, newspaper brands are constantly expanding and developing their online offering to cater to these customer demands.


Regardless, print newspapers are still drawing in huge audiences, providing excellent value for advertisers looking to engage with these readers (of quality if not quantity). The Sun, the UK’s most popular print title, was read by nearly 2.1 million people across May (-0.5% PoP), whilst the Daily Mail (second in line) saw a marginal audience fall of 0.7%, still bringing in over 1.7 million readers.


Keeping our attention on daily titles, The Guardian, whose online readership has enjoyed rapid growth across the last 12 months, was down 2.5% in print circulation figures. The Independent, too, saw falling figures with a 1.4% drop in circulation throughout May, however sister title ‘i’ was the only newspaper to see growth across the month, with a 0.6% increase in audience. The Times, whilst having lost 4,970 readers in May, suffered a marginal 0.6% loss YoY – impressive given the newsbrand’s online audience has in fact grown by 14% over the last quarter.


Whilst on average there was a 7.3% audience loss in daily titles, quality brands (down 7.65% on average) fared far better than popular newspapers (down 10.65% on average). It seems that quality titles enjoy a more loyal audience (perhaps the higher rate of unique content and the status associated with reading these titles attests for this), leaving us unsurprised that quality brands continue to invest in advertising through these quality reads.


Circulation figures were up by 0.9% for the Metro (London) as were YoY figures for the London Evening Standard, up a massive 27.9%. We’d want to know whether this is as a result of improved readership or far more aggressive circulation before we get too excited by this trend bucking.


It was the Sunday titles that pulled in the best results across May. In the quality market, the Observer and The Sunday Times both showed strong growth, up 1.6% and 1.7% respectively, whilst the Independent On Sunday was a non-mover. At the other end of the spectrum, the Daily Star Sunday (+0.3%), the Sunday People (+0.3) and the Sunday Mirror (0.4%) all saw increased circulation figures.


We see nothing unexpected in these results. Print is in decline, but it is a managed decline, leaving plenty of opportunity and value for brands. Once this period of mass migration has levelled out (and it will), there will still be papers (with the caveat of a few closures and a few daily papers becoming weekly) and there will still be adverts running in those papers. Here at Hello Starling, we like to say that the future isn’t digital; it’s multi-format.