The latest Newspaper Readership survey (Jan – Dec 2013)  acknowledged the growing prevalence of online newspaper readership by combining the traditional print figures with data from comScore, to paint a picture that better represents the industry today.   Whilst mobile and tablet app data was not included, the positive impact of online readership is undeniable, as readers’ behaviour continues to evolve towards the internet.


Daily Newspapers – Readership (Print and Online combined)


The bolstering success of newspaper websites is the driving force behind the YoY success enjoyed by most quality newspapers, particularly those not hidden behind a paywall.  This is evident in quality newspaper groups, the Guardian News and Media (GMN) and the Telegraph Media Group (TMG), who enjoyed record readership in 2013, with digital activity increasing readership by 208% and 150% respectively.


GMN secured over 12.6 million monthly readers in 2013 (in Britain), 2.2 million daily. Furthermore, the Guardian is the chosen paper for the highest number of under 35’s. Additional research found that Guardian articles were shared 2.4 million times over Twitter, the most of any newspaper. A strategy that allows them to offer advertisers a very large and very measurable audience.


A close second, TMG averaged 12.2 million monthly readers in 2013 (2.1 million per day).


The Sun still rules the roost in terms of print, with 7 million daily readers, however this marks a 16.6% drop from last year. Online struggled with less than 2.2 million average browsers, with the paper, in line with it’s quality stable mate The Times, having introduced an online paywall last summer.


The Daily Mail, the second strongest print performer is up 6.1% overall on last period, only having dropped 1% for print.


The Financial Times was not as lucky, falling a staggering 28.4% in readership. Print readership dropped by 26.4% but this is still better than online, with only 1 million monthly readers.


The Independent lost 29% of average daily readers. The sister title ‘i’ has not taken such a hit, with a 8.7% loss. Having seen 21% growth in 2012, this must be a real disappointment for the paper. It’s recently been revealed that they will be producing a new hybrid ‘digital newspaper’ app. The fresh concept will incorporate a more digitally interactive format to newspaper reading on mobile devices. We can only hope this will improve things throughout 2014.


The Times continues to struggle with the lowest recorded online readership and print having dropped 12.5% over 2013. Safe to say the paywall hasn’t started to pay it’s way yet.


We appreciate good journalism doesn’t pay for itself, but you have to question whether newsbrands can afford to continue hiding behind their walls. Hidden from Google and very much unloved by social media – not only will they struggle to reach anywhere near the same audience first time round (not in this era of free content), but they are missing out on the vital, viral merry-go-round too. It appears that the groups enjoying the greatest success through 2013 were those investing in their digital output and engaging readers through their website content. It might not be paying for itself yet, but it is getting eyes on adverts.


Do not hesitate to get in touch with our media planning department to discuss any questions you may have regarding this data.


For insight into newspaper performances in the first quarter of 2014, look here.


By Angharad Edwards