News Corp Print Readership Declines, Yet Still Most Read Weekday Papers: Roy Morgan

News Corp Print Readership Declines, Yet Still Most Read Weekday Papers: Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan Research today releases the latest Print Readership and seven-day Cross-Platform Audience results for Australian Newspapers for the survey period 12 months to March 2015.

The weekday editions of Fairfax metro newspapers in Melbourne and Sydney have bucked the downward national trend: 564,000 people now read the average issue of The Age Monday to Friday (up 5.2 per cent compared with the 12 months to March 2014) and 521,000 read the average Monday to Friday Sydney Morning Herald (virtually unchanged over the period).

News Corp’s metro dailies in Melbourne and Sydney are still the most-read weekday papers in the country—but print readership continues to decline: the average number of print readers for the Herald Sun (M F) has fallen from over a million in March 2014 to 869,000 (down 13.2 per cent), while the Daily Telegraph (M-F) shed 60,000 readers over the period (down 8.5 per cent to 648,000).

Some regional papers are performing strongly—or at least better than their metro equivalents: the Cairns Post (M-F) is up 9.6 per cent to 57,000 and has maintained its Saturday readership; the Illawarra Mercury’s Saturday edition grew 15.9 per cent to 51,000 with almost no change in weekday readership (45,000); the Sunday Canberra Times grew 12.5 per cent to 72,000 while losing only 3.0 per cent of Saturday readers (down to 97,000); the Mercury in Tasmania was virtually unchanged on weekdays (82,000) and gained 4.9 per cent on Saturdays (up to 108,000).

It was a mixed bag for afternoon freebie mX: while readership in Melbourne grew 5.2 per cent to 141,000, its Brisbane and Sydney editions were each among the worst performing weekday papers.

Although the Financial Review suffered double-digit decreases for both its weekday and weekend editions, its monthly AFR Magazine was the best-performing newspaper-inserted publication with 466,000 readers, up 15.6 per cent. A large part of this success came from two highly read issues: the ever-popular Rich List issue in July and Young Rich List included in November—content now available for AFR since Fairfax discontinued the BRW print edition in late 2013.

Despite a modest decline of 5.3 per cent, Good Weekend remains the most-read newspaper magazine with 1,334,000 readers across Victoria and New South Wales.

Weekday and Weekend Newspaper Readership

  M-F M-F Sat Sat Sun Sun
  March 2014 March 2015 March 2014 March 2015 March 2014 March 2015
Newspapers R’ship (‘000s) R’ship (‘000s) R’ship (‘000s) R’ship (‘000s) R’ship (‘000s) R’ship (‘000s)
The Australian 356 334 727 664
Aust. Financial Review 234 197 160 134
Daily Telegraph 708 648 641 610
Sydney Morning Herald 520 521 771 731
Sunday Telegraph 1,121 1,023
The Sun-Herald 746 672
MX 153 106
Newcastle Herald 100 86 151 111
Illawarra Mercury 46 45 44 51
Canberra Times 75 70 100 97 64 72
The Saturday Paper (NSW) (from Jul14) 48
Herald Sun 1,001 869 981 853
The Age 536 564 706 668
Sunday Herald Sun 996 898
The Sunday Age 567 564
MX 134 141
Geelong Advertiser 62 46 89 68
The Saturday Paper (VIC) (from Jul14) 39
Courier-Mail 493 436 618 542
The Sunday Mail 885 829
MX 54 41
Cairns Post 52 57 82 82
Gold Coast Bulletin 88 69 111 73
Townsville Bulletin 51 50 72 59
Adelaide Advertiser 379 334 488 391
Sunday Mail 529 447
West Australian 496 442
Weekend West 649 588
Sunday Times 536 455
The Mercury 83 82 103 108
The Examiner 56 52 72 62
The Advocate 37 35 48 42
Sunday Tasmanian (Tas) 92 90
Sunday Examiner 66 63
Northern Territory
Northern Territory News 37 35 51 46
Sunday Territorian 33 29


Newspaper Insert Magazines

Readership Readership
% of Population 14+ (‘000s)
Mar 2014 Mar 2015 Gain/Loss Mar 2014 Mar 2015 % Change
Wish 0.4 0.4 0.0 77 71 -7.8
Weekend Australian Magazine 3.8 3.5 -0.3 738 679 -8.0
Financial Review Magazine 2.1 2.4 0.3 403 466 15.6
Boss 0.6 0.5 -0.1 109 103 -5.5
Good Weekend (NSW & Vic) 7.3 6.9 -0.4 1,408 1,334 -5.3
Sunday Style (NSW & Vic) 5.5 5.1 -0.4 1,058 989 -6.5
Sunday Life (NSW & Vic) 5.0 4.6 -0.4 958 896 -6.5
Sunday Telegraph TV Guide (NSW) 3.7 3.4 -0.3 720 650 -9.7
Sunday Herald Sun TV Guide (Vic) 3.2 2.6 -0.6 620 497 -19.8
Qweekend (Qld) 2.2 2.0 -0.2 432 385 -10.9
Sunday Mail TV Guide (Qld) 2.9 2.6 -0.3 556 503 -9.5
Gold Coast Eye (Qld) 0.3 0.2 -0.1 55 43 -21.8
Sunday Mail TV Guide (SA) 1.9 1.7 -0.2 367 320 -12.8
SA Weekend 1.8 1.5 -0.3 343 295 -14.0
Sunday Times TV Guide (WA) 1.9 1.5 -0.4 364 282 -22.5
STM – Sunday Times Magazine (WA) 1.8 1.5 -0.3 351 291 -17.1
Seven Days (WA) 2.1 1.8 -0.3 407 348 -14.5
West Weekend (WA) 2.1 1.9 -0.2 409 368 -10.0

Cross-Platform Audiences

Cross-Platform Audience is the number of Australians who read or accessed a newspaper’s content via print, web or app in an average 7-day period. Fairfax continues to lead the way with its strategic focus on digital content. The Sydney Morning Herald was the big winner, with its combined print and digital audience growing 5.5 per cent to 3,521,000. The masthead’s 7.1 per cent decline in net print readership (to 1,257,000) was more than offset by an 11.7 per cent increase in the number visiting the website or using the app during an average week (to 2,815,000). The Age also posted solid digital audience growth of 5.8 per cent (to 1,921,000) for a net cross-platform gain of 2.4 per cent (to 2,522,000).

Although all News Corp’s metro dailies lost print readers, the Daily TelegraphCourier-Mail, Adelaide Advertiser and Sunday Times each gained digital audiences, with web/app growth in Sydney and Brisbane enough to offset the mastheads’ print declines. Brisbane’s web and app in particular did well, expanding 17.4 per cent to now be nudging a million digital users a week. However in Melbourne the Herald Sun was one of only four mastheads to lose digital audiences over the period (alongside the Financial Review, Mercury and West Australian) delivering a 7.3 per cent drop in audiences overall.

The Australian held steady with digital, finishing up with a 3.5 per cent decline in total cross-platform audience. However, the Financial Review lost both print readers and web/app users—combined, it shed a tenth of its total audience over the year.

7-day Cross Platform Audiences for Newspapers

Print Digital (web or app) Total Cross-Platform Audience (print, web or app)
Publication Mar 2014 (000s) Mar 2015 (000s) Mar 2014 (000s) Mar 2015 (000s) Mar 2014 (000s) Mar 2015 (000s) % change in Total Cross- Platform Audience
Adelaide Advertiser 775 671 455 502 1076 1030 -4.3%
Canberra Times 155 153 369 378 478 482 0.8%
Courier-Mail 1314 1245 795 962 1862 1952 4.8%
Daily Telegraph 1709 1573 1051 1216 2541 2547 0.2%
Financial Review 459 417 370 343 769 692 -10.0%
Herald Sun 1772 1587 1360 1301 2790 2587 -7.3%
Mercury 149 153 109 101 241 219 -9.1%
Newcastle Herald 209 176 89 132 281 294 4.6%
Sunday Times 536 455 442 482 896 858 -4.2%
Sydney Morning Herald 1353 1257 2485 2815 3336 3521 5.5%
The Age 1062 1059 1809 1921 2462 2522 2.4%
The Australian 1039 976 992 996 1839 1774 -3.5%
West Australian 936 885 564 542 1323 1276 -3.6%


Print is 7-day net readership (Monday to Sunday); digital is 7-day net website visitation and app usage.

Tim Martin, general manager of media, Roy Morgan Research, said: “These results mark for the first full 12-month on 12-month comparison since Fairfax moved to a tabloid format for its Sydney and Melbourne papers—and clearly the decision has paid off with both The Age and Sydney Morning Herald out-performing the industry.

“With the latest news readily available 24 hours a day from an ever-increasing number of Australian and international sources, the power of print lies in delivering trustworthy, in-depth coverage of stories that matter most to local readers. Although the number of Australians reading print newspapers on an average day is declining, there is clearly a continuing need for the sort of comprehensive content best presented by words and pictures on a printed page.

“Roy Morgan’s ‘average issue’ print readership and ‘average 7 days’ cross-platform audience numbers are the industry standard for advertisers and media agencies looking to get a real and applicable understanding of just how many Australians they can reach.

“Adding exponential depth to these readership results, Roy Morgan Single Source is the preferred multi-media audience measurement currency used by the majority of Australian media strategy, planning and buying agencies as well as telecommunications, financial services and automotive brands.

“With the major publishers all having set up or bought digital properties to replace the ‘rivers of gold’ that once flowed from print classifieds, Roy Morgan will also be further exploring the cross-platform audiences of mastheads and those real estate, job and car websites and apps.

“We will also be taking a closer look at regional and community papers—so stay tuned.”

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