Change at the Top in Daily Newspaper Circulation Wars

newspapersAs of last September, the daily newspaper with the highest average circulation was The Wall Street Journal, with a combined print and digital circulation of 2.29 million. USA Today claimed 1.71 million and The New York Times registered 1.61 million. Six months later, the NY Times has passed USA Today, claiming 1.87 million circulation at the end of March, compared with 1.67 million at USA Today.

The WSJ, which is owned by News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA), continues to lead in total circulation with 2.38 million, up 12.3% in the 12 months. The NY Times, owned by The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT), saw circulation rise 17.6% since March of 2012. USA Today, owned by Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI), experienced a circulation drop of 7.9% year-over-year.

About 62% of the WSJ's circulation comes from its print edition, while the NY Times print edition accounts for just under 40% of the paper's total circulation. USA Today's print circulation accounts for 85% of its total circulation.

The Alliance for Audited Media (AAM), which collects and reports this data, noted that for 593 daily newspapers included in its count, total daily circulation fell by 0.7%. For 519 Sunday newspapers, total circulation fell 1.4%.

Digital newspaper editions now account for 19.3% of all daily circulation, compared with 14.2% 12 months ago. Branded editions, which AAM defines as "newspaper-owned products such as commuter, community, alternative-language or Sunday-Select type newspapers" account for 5.1% of all circulation, up from 4.5% a year ago.

What the AAM does not report on is advertising pages, which is where print editions have lost traction for years. Digital subscribers typically pay less than print subscribers and print advertising rates shrink as subscribers jump ship to the digital versions.

The AAM Snapshot report for March is available here.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Media Tagged: GCI, NWSA, NYT
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