New NNN Study Shows Rise in Readership

More people are reading newspapers in the top 100 markets, according to Spring 2008 Media Mark Research & Intelligence (MRI) data on behalf of the Newspaper National Network (NNN). The spring survey showed a reader uptick of 2.5 percent to 80.6 million from 78.7 million compared to the same period in the prior year.

Newspaper circulation for the six months ending March 2008 fell 3.5 percent for daily and 4.5 percent on Sunday, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Major metro experienced some of the biggest drop-offs.

However, the NNN points to a few factors for the gain: Newspaper Web sites may be drawing people to the print edition. Publishers are cutting circulation like third-party copies — which went to infrequent readers — and instead are focusing on “core” subscribers. The NNN also believes that secondary readership is up, and that freebies like am New York and Metro are making inroads.

“In a challenging environment for newspaper publishers, the MRI results are welcome news,” Jason Klein, president and CEO of NNN, said in a statement. “Readership growth is good news for advertisers since it means more ad exposures.”

The NNN said that the fall 2007 numbers were also up 1.8 percent. Along with the spring data, these are the first increases the measure has shown since it was created in the fall 2003.

However, newspaper readership still has a way to go before it catches up with the fall 2003 data. In that period, 85.3 million people read a newspaper.