MRI: Magazine, Newspaper Readership Rising

Print media may have an advertising problem, but there is some good news for publishers: consumers haven’t abandoned their magazines and newspapers, according to GfK MRI’s spring audience survey.
The twice-annual report shows that total adult readership of magazines and newspapers rose nearly 1 percent versus spring 2009 and nearly 0.5 percent since MRI’s fall report.
At a time when interest in health is on the rise, several women’s health/fitness magazines saw year-over-year, double-digit readership gains. Fitness’ readership rose 31 percent, to 7.3 million. Shape’s increased 26 precent, to 6.8 million; and Women’s Health, nearly 21 percent, to 10.9 million.
Several women’s fashion/beauty magazines also saw lifts in readership. The biggest gainers included More, whose readership grew 26.3 percent to 1.8 million; Allure, up 25.6 percent to 7.4 million; and Elle, up 18.4 percent to 6.1 million.
The gains weren’t evenly shared. Vogue, while it still dominates in audience, grew its readership only 4.8 percent, to 11.6 million; while W declined 9.3 percent, to 1.4 million.
The data reflect print readership only and don’t take into account readership of the publications’ online brands.
Newspapers are seen as especially vulnerable as consumers get more of their news online, and the spring MRI report showed that the larger the newspaper, the greater the readership drop.
The top 100 papers’ dailies’ readership essentially held its own versus a year ago at 73 million, while the top 10 dailies’ readership declined 4.2 percent to 26.6 million. Across all circulation groups, newspapers’ Sunday readership declined faster than its daily readership.
Among the dueling national newspapers, the results were mixed. The New York Times’ daily readership plunged 16.7 percent to 2.4 million, while its Sunday readership slipped 2.8 percent to 3.9 million. Archrival The Wall Street Journal, which has stepped up its efforts to compete with the Times in the New York metro area, gained 6.5 percent, to 3.5 million. At USA Today, whose hotel-distributed circulation has declined, readership fell 11.4 percent to 3.3 million.