Thursday, October 31, 2013

Alliance for Audited Media No Longer Providing Clear Newspaper Circulation Information

Alan D. Mutter of Newsosaur reports that the Alliance for Audited Media is no longer providing even ball park accuracy in newspaper circulation numbers.
Owing to a series of changes adopted by the industry-funded organization over the years, publishers no longer have to provide a five-day average of daily circulation. They also have the liberty of counting a woman who reads the paper in print, on her office computer, on her personal laptop, on her tablet and on her smartphone as five separate subscribers.

Some newspapers take advantage of these options and others do not, eliminating seemingly forever the possibility of comparing apples-to-apples data across the industry – or even from year to year for the same publication, if it changes its reporting standards over time.
Andrew Beaujon at Poynter tries to stitch together a patchwork quilt comparison of September 2014 numbers with September 2013 for some major U.S. newspapers.

1. USA Today total circulation is up 67% to 2,876,586 which includes 1,545,364 in digital circulation, but print circulation is down 19%.

2. New York Times circulation is up 14% to 1,897,890, including an 18% rise in digital circulation.  But, it saw a 2% drop in Sunday print circulation and a 6% drop in weekday print circulation.

3. Wall Street Journal circulation fell 4% to 2,273,767.

4. Washington Post circulation rose 19% to 800,643.

An important sidelight is that circulation revenue at the New York Times has passed advertising revenue.  Beaujon continues:
Circulation revenue long ago passed advertising revenue at the New York Times Co. It was up nearly 5 percent in the third quarter and is up 6.5 percent for the first nine months of 2013. Advertising revenue is down by nearly the same percentage over the first three quarters.
Circulation revenue now accounts for 56% of New York Times total revenue.

Newsosaur notes that ad revenue is down only for newspapers (-5.5%) from a year ago for the first half of 2013--not for TV (+6.4%), magazines (+0.4%) or radio (0%).

First half 2013 total for digital advertising is up 18% to $20.1 billion.  This is more than double the estimated $8.6 billion for print newspaper advertising.  TV advertising for the same period is about $18.4 billion, magazine advertising $9.4 billion, and radio advertising $4.3 billion.
Newspaper Association of America revenue reports can be found here.


MAX Redline said...

It's odd to see the WaPost circulation increase by nearly a fifth. Must be due to the Influx of Lefties in DC, thanks to the current administration.

T. D. said...

Max, I think the relevant bit of information is that now there is no way to compare circulation figures not only between newspapers but between years with the same newspaper since each digital device the newspaper can be viewed on by an individual subscriber can be counted as a separate subscription or not at the discretion of the newspaper.

By the way, I hope to have subscription data for the Oregonian in the next week or so when the AAM online stats are updated from March to September figures.

MAX Redline said...

Yes, that they can report every "device" access as a "subscription" didn't slide past me, TD - that's pretty sneaky. I was simply taken by the WaPo uptick; wonder if they're counting "device access" as "subscription" as well?

T. D. said...

I should have noted that the Washington Post increase was *Sunday* circulation. Apparently the big jump is because of including "branded editions". Here's what Beaujon writes:

"The Washington Post’s average Sunday circulation rose 19 percent, to 800,643. That increase includes 176,664 branded editions. As reported exhaustively in this blog, the Post stopped counting branded editions in 2012 while it audited Savings Now, its lawn-delivered total market coverage product.

"Subtract those editions, and average Sunday circulation fell 7.5 percent at the Post — from 674,751 to 623,979 — and average weekday circulation fell nearly 7 percent, from 462,228 to 431,521."

MAX Redline said... it makes more sense. Thanks for the additional clarification, TD!

T. D. said...

Sorry about not making it clearer in the post.

I'm still waiting for AAM to update their site with September 2013 figures. So, we can see the actual numbers and how they present them.