The SMH Still Most Read Masthead, As Aussies Embrace Shift To Digital

The SMH Still Most Read Masthead, As Aussies Embrace Shift To Digital

Roy Morgan Research today releases the latest readership report for Australian newspapers for the 12 months to June 2017. You can read the full results here.

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Some 12,913,000 Australians 14-plus (64.8 per cent) now read or access newspapers in an average sevenday period either in print, or online via website or app – ‘cross-platform’. This is virtually unchanged from a year ago.

While cross-platform audiences are steady, today’s results do show growing numbers of Australians are choosing to consume their news via digital platforms rather than through the traditional print format.

Over the past 12 months nine of Australia’s leading mastheads have increased their digital readership compared to only three that have increased their print readership.

Stand-out performers in this latest report are: The Sydney Morning Herald – the most widely read with cross-platform readership of 4,235,000, up 3.8 per cent from a year ago; it’s increase driven by an increase in digital readership that more than offset the loss of print readers.

Sydney rival the Daily Telegraph with a cross-platform reach of 3,418,000 is up 10.5 per cent in a year; and regional title the Canberra Times is up 15.3 per cent to 544,000 – see the regional titles table for greater detail.

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Print Readership

Overall 7.8 million Australians read print newspapers, including 5.6 million who read weekday issues, 4.7 million who read Saturday editions and 4.3 million Sunday titles. Although these numbers have declined over the past year, the sheer size of the audience demonstrates the ongoing importance of print – 60 per cent of Australians aged 14-plus can be reached by newspapers each week.

Weekend Newspaper Readership splits on geographic lines

Australia’s leading weekend newspaper is Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph with a print readership of 900,000 – although this has fallen a significant 10.1 per cent over the past year and is now just ahead of southern stablemate Melbourne’s Sunday Herald Sun with readership of 873,000 (up 2.3 per cent).

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Although Australia’s move to digital is impacting print editions of Australia’s leading Monday to Friday newspapers, the performance of Australia’s leading weekend newspapers is splitting on familiar geographic lines – decreasing in New South Wales and increasing in Victoria.

The three leading weekend newspapers in New South Wales and Queensland all lost ground over the past year. In addition to the 10.1 per cent decrease for the Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Mail is down 10.2 per cent to a readership of 685,000 and the Sun-Herald lost 7.9 per cent to 579,000.

In contrast weekend editions in Victoria all increased their print readership over the past year with the Sunday Herald Sun up 2.3 per cent, Saturday Herald Sun up 5.0 per cent to 825,000, Saturday Age up 2.4 per cent to 651,000 and the Sunday Age up an impressive 8.5 per cent 536,000.

Newspaper Inserted Magazines surge

The encouraging result for several weekend print titles was supported by increases for the leading Newspaper Inserted Magazines – usually included in weekend newspaper editions.

Market leader Good Weekend retained top spot with print readership of 1,270,000 (up 1.6 per cent) ahead of News Corp Sunday newcomer Stellar* (971,000), Sunday Life on 765,000 (up 4.5 per cent) and the Weekend Australian Magazine on 722,000 (up 5.1 per cent).

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Regional newspapers hit by declining print readership

All six of Australia’s leading regional mastheads lost print readership over the past year, as well as total cross-platform audience at the Newcastle Herald and The Mercury in Hobart.

The notable exception to this trend was the Canberra Times which despite losing print readership over the year managed to increase its total cross-platform audience to 544,000 (up 15.3 per cent).

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Commenting on the results, Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said: “Cross-platform audiences of Australia’s leading mastheads have grown strongly over the last year led by increasing digital take-up as Australians turn to websites and apps to consume their favourite sources of news rather than the traditional print medium.

“However, although capital city publications like market leader the Sydney Morning Herald – now with over 4.2 million readers via print and digital – are completing the transition to a digital future, the impact of the ‘global village’ is presenting a significant challenge to regional newspapers in Australia that have faced steep declines in readership over the same time period and clearly need to find new ways to engage local audiences.

“For newspapers wondering how to leverage their existing name recognition to increase their readership the success of newspaper inserted magazines over the past year is an encouraging sign and indicates that the growth of the ‘experience economy’ won’t always come at the expense of the traditional print medium.

“Australia’s leading newspaper inserted magazines all experienced print readership growth in the year to June 2017 suggesting that for many Australians the experience of ‘escaping’ the immersive nature of the digital world while relaxing on the weekend is best done with a glossy magazine easily accessible via your local weekend newspaper.”