ABCs: News Ltd and Fairfax talk up digital gains

ABCs: News Ltd and Fairfax talk up digital gains

News Limited CEO Kim Williams has taken another swipe at the Roy Morgan Readership metrics and pledged to have their own in market “this year”.

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Williams said he is “excited” about the new metric from The Readership Works, as “it will provide advertisers a much more accurate picture of media consumption across all platforms – print, online, smart phones and tablets”.

He added: “We have had concerns for a number of years about the incumbent Roy Morgan readership methodology as we believe it is built on a skewed sample and a paper questionnaire that relies on readers recalling what they read up to six days earlier”.

In their responses to the new Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures both News and rivals Fairfax were keen to highlight the growth of their digital channels, but made little mention of continued print falls, with both again losing thousands of copies year-on-year.

Newspaper Works CEO Tony Hale said the latest results are “very encouraging” and claimed they are “starting to offset the decline in print”, with  total masthead sales, taking in print, digital and bundled subscribers, showing a lift of around 1% from last quarter, when they were first revealed.

He added: “Australians continue to buy more than 18 million newspapers every week and although the bulk of these are still print editions, we are now also seeing the strengthening influence of digital purchases on the overall sales figures.

“It is still early days for paid digital sales, and in coming months, we will see the rollout of digital subscriptions across more and more mastheads, supported with enthusiastic marketing by the publishers.”

Fairfax has claimed a slight audience rise in total masthead sales compared to the September quarter, when they were first published by the group, with paywalls expected to be brought in for its metro mastheads in March.

They are also celebrating a million downloads for the tablet apps for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and claims to have 150,000 unique daily browsers between them, a 200% rise on last year.

Jack Matthews, CEO of Fairfax’s metro media division said: “The latest numbers support our decision to step up our digital growth as we follow our readers across their day and across all their devices.

“These tablet apps have been extraordinarily popular with readers and advertisers”

Mobile director Rick Gleave said smaller tablets hitting the market has boosted uptake, and has led to increased browsing times.

News’ Williams waas keen to highlight the rise in digital subscribers to The Australian, which picked up 27% over the three months on weekdays, leading to an overall 2.3% rise in paid sales, “offsetting the modest decline in print”.

He also pointed to the readership data for the Sunday network of their papers, which reported 4.7m people read them, shows newspapers are “unrivalled by any other medium”, citing the record 4.4m who tuned in for the finale of Nine’s The Voice.