Average weekday circulation at the U.S.’s largest daily newspapers stayed flat during the last six months, compared with the same period in 2011. Sunday circulation showed a minute bump of 0.6 percent in the latest period.
Numbers would be dismal if the Audit Bureau hadn’t decided in 2010, under pressure from publishers, to include digital subscribers in its newspaper circulation numbers. During the latest period, digital editions accounted for about 15 percent of overall U.S. circulation, up from 10 percent in the year-earlier period.
No newspaper benefited more from the new rules than The New York Times. Circulation at the Times grew 40 percent from a year ago. More than half of the Times‘ 1.6 million circulation was for digital editions, including subscriptions for full access to its website and mobile apps.
The story behind the numbers is that paywalls aren’t just a passing fad, but a possible way to save news outlets that continue to buy ink by the barrel. Although it’s still unclear whether the digital subscribers will rescue the industry. The ABC numbers aren’t quite as good as in the last report, when weekday circulation increased 0.7 percent and Sunday circulation jumped 5 percent.
For the PR world, the shift has some implications, including: