Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Irish Newspaper Readership 2007

The IAPI (Institute of Advertising Practioners of Ireland) released the latest JNRS (joint national readership survey) today while the final circulation figures of 2006 were released by ABC last Thursday.

Initiative Media has compared full year 2006 figures for both sets of figures to full year 2005. This year’s JNRS report uses a different sampling methodology to all previous reports, and as such is treated as an interim report, with results to be considered accordingly. The JNRS previously used the electoral register to select its random sample, however, in 2006, it moved to using the Geo Directory, which uses latest CSO statistics and An Post and Ordnance Survey data, to provide a sample reflecting the changing Irish population. The new sample contains more foreign nationals than the electoral register would have provided.

Initiative Media says that the sample comes from the electoral register, with the remaining 40% sourced from the Geo Directory. While the number of people reading any newspaper increased slightly in the latest release, the readership of most daily newspapers decreased. This was mirrored in last week’s ABC results, which showed most titles failing new sell more copies. The long predicted impact of the Internet on newspapers may finally be showing some truth, although not at the level predicted by some pundits at the start of the century. Broadband penetration now stands at 13% in Ireland, with 15% of Internet users saying they read newspapers online.

The Irish Times was the only daily not to lose readers, remaining steady at 336,000, while the Irish Independent lost a whopping 40,000 readers. All of the tabloids, most predominantly the UK titles with Irish editions suffered in terms of both readers and circulation.

The Irish Sun lost 24,000 readers, and although its still Ireland’s highest circulating tabloid, it decreased its circulation by over 10,000 daily copies. The Irish Sun has the lowest reader per copy ratio of all newspapers. While it has the second highest circulation, it falls well back with the fifth highest readership among all the dailies. Readership was not measured for the Daily Mail in this book, however, its circulation still remains low at just under 57,000, circulating just 100 copies more per day than Dublin only freesheet Metro. Dublin’s other freesheet Herald AM has an impressive daily circulation of just over 62,000, which may be to blame for its big sister, The Evening Herald losing 3% of both its circulation and readership.

Among the Sundays, most titles again lost both readers and circulation. The Sunday World was the only paper which managed to grow both readership and circulation in 2006. The IN&M controlled tabloid is now only 1,400 copies behind the market leader The Sunday Independent in terms of circulation. Despite a 4% drop, the Sunday Independent still has over one million readers every Sunday.

The transition to the Mail on Sunday hasn’t had the promised results for Ireland on Sunday, which saw its circulation drop by 9% over the transition period.* The Irish Mail on Sunday is not measured in the current JNRS. Following on the tail of its daily sister, the Sunday Mirror showed the biggest percentage decreases in both readership and circulation. The Daily Star Sunday’s phenomenal 14% increase in circulation was not matched in terms of gaining new readers, which suggests that the circulation success may have been promotionally led.

*Ireland on Sunday figures used for Jan-Jun06, Irish Mail on Sunday figures used for Oct-Dec06. No figures available for Jul;-Sep06.

Are the figures credible?

The survey is based on readership by any adult aged 15+ who has spent at least 2 minutes spent on a particular publication – so one is a newspaper reader by simply checking the time of a TV programme.

It's hard to believe that The Sunday Business Post, which targets a business audience and does not have a sports section, has an average of 3 readers per copy - greater than the average of the Irish Times, which gets exposure during the workday in receptions, coffee shops etc. never mind the range of content for a broad cross section of the public.