Newspapers’ Digital Circulation Climbs

NY Times, others crank out substantial gains

Finally, here's some good news for U.S. newspapers, for a change: the Audit Bureau of Circulations has issued its twice-annual newspaper circulation report, and it shows that overall circulation held steady as papers’ efforts to expand their digital distribution paid off.

The standout was The New York Times, whose total circulation grew more than 40 percent to 1.6 million. Its digital circulation more than doubled in the past year to 896,352, the result of an aggressive push to grow its paid digital subscription base via its paywall, which went up more than a year ago (though it wasn't enough to cure all its revenue ills). With the increase in digital, the Times’ online daily circulation now tops its print circulation, which comes in at 717,513. The Times’ Sunday circulation also sharply increased, from 27.7 percent to 2.1 million.

Archrival The Wall Street Journal, with a more established paid site, grew its total circ 9.4 percent to 2.3 million as its digital circ surged to 794,594 from 537,469 a year ago.

Overall, the Audit Bureau report showed daily circ decreased 0.2 percent while total Sunday circulation increased 0.6 percent, with digital circulation now accounting for 15.3 percent of total circulation, up from 9.8 percent a year ago.

Looking at the top U.S. dailies by circulation, 16 of the top 25 posted increases in the past year. Other big gainers were the Los Angeles Times (11.9 percent), Denver Post (16.9 percent), Newark Star-Ledger (48.1 percent), and St. Petersburg Times (30.4 percent).

Looking at U.S. dailies by circulation, the Journal remained No. 1 with 2.3 million print and digital circulation, followed by USA Today (1.7 million) and the Times (1.6 million). On a print-only basis, USA was the biggest, followed by the Journal and the Times.

The report covers the six months that ended Sept. 30. Figures are based on reporting by 613 daily newspapers and 528 papers with Sunday editions.