The latest newspaper readership figures suggest that a huge number of people have stopped reading a Sunday newspaper altogether since the closure of the News of the World.
The statistics released today by the National Readership Survey (NRS) are the first to cover the period following the NoW’s closure on 10 July.
They reveal that a substantial proportion of the NoW’s former readers have not switched to a rival title.
Prior to its closure, and stretching back 50 years, the NoW had the highest average issue readership of any national Sunday newspaper.
Its final published NRS estimate, for the six months from January to June this year, was 7,217,000 adults.
Some 60% of that total (4,342,000) did not read any other Sunday newspaper. Of those who did, 16% also read the Sunday Mirror, 11% the Mail on Sunday, 9% The People and 6% the Daily Star Sunday.
However, it appears that many of the 4.3m solo readers of NoW have dropped out of the market altogether.
Comparing NRS data for the quarter prior to the closure of NoW (April-June 2011) with the following quarter (July-September 2011) the total net readership of national Sunday newspapers fell from 19,221,000 to 15,859,000, a 17% decline of 3,362,000.
If the NoW is removed from the equation the net readership of the remaining Sunday newspapers increased by just 6% (870,000).
The largest beneficiaries were the Sunday Mirror, with an increase in its estimate of 719,000 (+21%) from 3,501,000 to 4,220,000.
The Daily Star Sunday registered an even bigger increase of 32%, going up from 846,000 to 1,116,000. Both these increases are considered by the NRS number-crunchers to be “statistically significant.”
However, the NRS does give a health warning with these figures in the sense that it will take some time for the market to settle down. It therefore says “the findings should be treated with caution.”
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.