Tuesday, April 29, 2008

AHC and NYT lost most circ

Circulation at the New York Times Co. and A.H. Belo fell considerably more than the reported industry average in the most recent six-month reporting period, according to an analysis by Deutsche Bank.

While industry-wide daily circulation dropped an average of 3.5% and Sunday sales fell an average of 4.2%, daily circulation slid 8.3% at A.H. Belo and Sunday circulation plunged 7.8% at the New York Times Co. Particularly eye-popping was the 9.3% swoon in Sunday sales of the New York Times (maybe more articles about elegant, clothing-optional spas will help).

Analyst Paul Ginocchio reports that not one of the 10 publishing companies had an over-all increase in circulation. Even the best-performing publisher – News Corp. – lost 0.9% in daily circ and 1.2% on Sunday.

The big-name papers showing double-digit declines were the Dallas Morning News, off 10.4% daily and 7.6% on Sunday; the Rocky Mountain News, off 10.9% daily and 14.4% on Sunday, and the Miami Herald, off 11.4% daily and 9.1% on Sunday.

A larger-than-average circulation drop in one reporting period does not necessarily indicate an individual newspaper or company is any more trouble than the industry as a whole. Rather, it may reflect a company's desire to rein in distant circulation to create a tighter (and more economical) distribution footprint. Or, it could result from a decision to reduce or eliminate the sale of deeply discounted promotional copies.

Nevertheless, growth is better than contraction. Apart from the 0.3% gains at both USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, there are no other positive numbers on the table below. You can click on the image to enlarge it, but the results won't look any better.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

These numbers indicate a pattern that, I’m sure, you been seeing for some time:

Groups or parts of groups composed mostly of smaller, locally focused properties did better than the national trend.

National brands either did better than the industry trend or at least weren’t any worse.

But the Mr. In-Betweens, to quote the old blues song, got hammered.

Look at Scripps ex-JOAs vs. Scripps. The regional Rocky Mountain News IS the JOA category at Scripps. Without the Rocky, the company’s smaller and heavily local properties were down 1.3% vs. the national 3.5% number. Toss in the struggling Rocky, and Scripps was worse than the industry by four tenths.

Or look at Lee, where legacy Lee (small and local) and Pulitzer ex-St. Louis (also small and local) were down 1.8% and 1.9% respectively. But St. Louis pulled Lee down almost to the industry number.

The New York Times, as usual, is the exception – with the Times itself at the national number and the regionals appallingly worse. My impression for years has been that the regionals have yearned to be mini-NYTs.

The secular shift to digital media is a big part of the problem, of course, but no newspaper will do any better on line than in print until it fully embraces its niche.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Jaclyn said...

On a good day I look at these numbers and think the news industry is changing. On a bad day I just think it's dying...

10:48 AM  

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