How many people in Britain buy a newspaper every day? It’s a question of ten asked and rarely answered with any authority.
I found myself floundering for an exact answer during a US radio broadcast at the weekend, guessing at about 12m.
So I set about coming up with a definitive figure and it transpires that my guesstimate wasn’t too far off the mark. It is, in fact, 12,681,472 (according to ABC (NYSE: DIS) figures for the nationals in November this year and for the regionals in the Jan-June period this year).
Here’s the breakdown. The 10 London-based national titles sell an average of 9,540,993 a day.
The 68 English regional dailies (mornings and evenings) together sell 2,085,116. The nine Scottish dailies sell 735,002; the six Welsh sell 183,131; and the three Northern Ireland titles sell 137,230.
However, if you add on the non-paid-for dailies – Metro (1.344,959) plus the London Evening Standard (circa 700,000) and City AM (113,321) – the total creeps up very close to the 15m mark.
In a country with an adult (15+) population of 50m, that’s pretty good penetration. If we allow for the fact that most titles will be read by two or three people, then it shows that we remain a nation of avid newspaper-readers.
I admit that some of the paid-for totals include bulk sales, but not so many as to reduce the figure by a significant margin.
I also concede that people may well read two or more titles (a national plus a regional, perhaps, or two nationals). This does reduce the overall readership somewhat.
However, these are surely eye-popping figures when one realises that online UK newspaper consumption is up in the millions too.
The power of the British press is not an illusion, and it is obviously not a thing of the past.
It sets the gloom of plunging sales in an entirely different context, does it not?
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.