The latest results from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABCs) show the weekday print version of Fairfax Media’s The Sydney Morning Herald only just beating its digital subscriptions by ten issues.
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) weekday print edition may have dropped 14.5% year on year to a circulation of 126,510 (down 21,527 hard copy sales from the previous year) however its digital edition is up a whopping 183% to 126,500, making them almost nose to nose.
On the whole Fairfax Media’s print sales fell by 13.63%, according to the table below from Fusion Strategy, however its digital sales increased 275.82%, leaving the media giant with an increase of 13.16%.
News Limited grew its digital circulation results by 47.37%, with its hard copy sales falling 8.99%, to create an overall drop of 6.61%.
Steve Allen at Fusion Strategy said that digital sales are a “two-edged sword”.
“Digital sales are a two-edged sword though, as clearly Fairfax’s whole hearted embrace of digital accelerates the declines of hard copy,” he said in a statement.
“Not a great audit if you rely on hard copy sales.”
Talking about Fairfax’s clinch of digital, Allen told B&T: “News Limited just aren’t embracing digital and you have to wonder why.
“Fairfax are a completely open book on this and the results show it.”
Taking into account the total masthead sales, the Monday to Friday editions of Fairfax’s SMH and The Age are leading the pack in terms of total circulation increase, looking at the table on the left provided by Fusion Strategy.
Fairfax Media’s managing director, Allen Williams, said: “The March 2014 ABC release is the third period to include sales data from our digital subscriptions for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age websites, m-sites and tablet apps, launched on July 2, 2013.
“Figures taken from our last market update given on May 9, 2014 show we have signed up around 130,000 paid digital subscribers for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. In addition, 100,000 existing print subscribers have activated their digital access.”
Fairfax’s weekend edition of the Australian Financial Review didn’t fare very well in the ABC results, sliding down 23.1% to a circulation of 62,717 where the same time last year saw the circulation at 81,606.
Taking a gander at News Limited’s Monday to Friday edition of The Australian you’ll find a slip down of 6.7% in print circulations year on year, similarly for The Daily Telegraph weekday edition which fell 9.5% in circulation.
The print version of the weekday edition of The Daily Telegraph dropped 9.5% in circulation (276,176 now compared to 305,132 the previous year) with its weekend version showing similar drops, down 9.1% to 276,417 (the previous year was 304,254).
The Herald-Sun saw its digital results up 80.9% for weekday and 83.3% for weekend, however the amount of print copies sold still outnumber digital.
Even though the print weekday edition dropped 10.1% year on year, its circulation result from the last quarter is at 382,217, whereas the digital weekday circulation numbers are 47,815.
The weekend edition was much the same, down 10.6% year on year but still posed the highest circulation number of 387,484 with the weekend digital circulation numbers showing 48,258.
According to Allen: “Fairfax’s strategy is clearly a winner and it seems they can make money out of it, though it’s still problematic.”
“A large and growing proportion of consumers look to a digital future, even in newspaper consumption.”