Poor ABCs for Regional Press
The most recent six-monthly ABC figures were released recently. Covering the back half of 2009, the numbers provide further evidence of the continued decline in circulation across nearly all local press titles. Among daily, weekly, paid and free titles the trend was overwhelmingly negative, which will put further strain on cashflow as newspaper sales and advertising revenues suffer. The Liverpool Echo suffered a 9.5% year on year decline, dropping below the 90,000 copies mark with its figure of 88,519. Business title the Yorkshire Post misplaced 5.7% of its sales as it slipped to 43,095, while the Glasgow Evening Times’ circulation dropped by 13.2%, to 59,365.
Commentators describe the decline as the inevitable outcome of a trend begun in the early noughties, wherein readers began to turn away from print media, finding instead their news, events listings and classified advertising online. The continued success of the Metro is also seen as contributing to the decline, while the impact of the recession has only exacerbated the situation.
Captain Clickback says: “The story stays the same here, but the numbers keep getting smaller, particularly in large cities where the commuter is king, people surf the web al desko and the Metro is thriving. It’s worth noting that one of the few titles to do well, the Dorset Echo, is not only a more rural title, but one which switched from evening to morning publication shortly before the period in question. Despite a brace of innovations and shrewd ideas like the shift of titles such as the Echo and the Birmingham Mail from evening to morning distribution, the paid/free model adopted by the MEN, or the Bath Chronicle’s move from daily to weekly distribution, it would be a brave media pundit who could offer more than an apologetic grimace to the regional publishing industry. Over a long enough timeline, the printed word will surely return to nought, as will we all.”
London Evening Standard Raking in the Readers
Another among those brace of press innovations that I mentioned earlier, the Evening Standard’s move to free distribution and huge increase in print saw dividends in the most recent National Readership Survey results. The number of people reading the average issue rose by 133% year on year, to a fairly impressive 1.39m: a figure well above the readership of the smaller national titles (step forward The Guardian, we know you’re there. And you FT, and bring the Indie with you).
As Russian oligarch (an alarmingly difficult word to type) Alexander Lebedev crosses the t’s and dots the i’s, j’s and umlauts on his deal to buy the Independent, word is that a similar free model will be adopted there. Given the slow and lingering death being suffered by the beleaguered national lefty title, many there might find some significant solace in the turnaround achieved at Evening Standard towers.
Captain Clickback says: “Does the Cyrillic alphabet even use umlauts? Wouldn’t the contracts be written in English anyway? What on earth was I thinking? Does it really matter? Probably not. We’ll gloss over that and move on. Nobody noticed. It’s fine.”
Congleton Chronicle, How Appt
Another of those new innovations in the press marketplace. The Congleton Chronicle has come over all technical and released its very own free app for the iPhone. The downloadable widget allows the user to browse an e-version of the first seven pages of the newspaper. The rest of the paper is available to people who opt to pay a subscription of £2.39 per month.
Captain Clickback says: “The Chron is the first newspaper to have its own branded app which gives access to the full version of the newspaper. The numbers are likely to be very small at first, but this is at least a move in the right direction. It’s also probably an idea to start demanding a position in the first seven pages if you use this title regularly!”
Technophiles One & All
The 2010 award for not entirely surprising statistic goes to a recent Microsoft funded survey, which found that young men are the heaviest users of the internet. Most use it everyday and describe it as the piece of technology they are most attached to. 99% of young men go online either everyday or nearly everyday, half of them using their mobile phones to do so.
25% of young men (‘young’ is defined as 18-44, I’m sure some of you will be pleased to know) claimed to check their emails before they get out of bed, while 18% look at social networking sites on their mobile phones first thing. 60% of this group visit a social networking site at least once each day, and 94% use email everyday. The strength of video on demand among this demograph is worthy of note: 73% of them watch VoD at least once per week.
Captain Clickback says: “Computers have made the move out of the spare bedroom and into the living room (or, it would seem, the bed). 25% of men aged 18-44 watch VoD in the living room while their partners watch television. We can buy video advertising on pre-roll networks, at a surprisingly cheap rate.”
We’re All For The High Jump
…if left-leaning thinktank Compass get their way. The quango philosphiserists recently proposed a total ban on all advertising in public spaces, all advertising aimed at the under 12s and restrictions on shopfront promotions. These musings have found resonance with recent pronouncements made by David Cameron about what he perceives as the sexualisation of children and the destruction of the family, brought about by the declining standards of the media.
Captain Clickback says: “It’s at most unlikely that anybody’s going to systematically dismantle a worldwide industry worth nearly £300bn, but in the race to say sensible things ahead of the general election, it’s probably inevitable that the finger of neo-Victorianism will get wagged at all and sundry.”
Did You Know…
The government’s Central Office of Information is the UK’s largest advertiser with commercial radio. During the run up to a general election, the moratorium on all forms of broadcast advertising by government agencies means that radio networks have a glut of airtime to shift. This can only be terrific news for you the advertiser as rates fall and the chances of free over-delivery increase drastically.
That’s your lot for another issue. If you’d like any more information on any of these stories, you can either reply to this email or contact your Space and Time team.
See you next time!!