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Web adds a fifth to UK newspaper readership, print still dominates

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What does having a website do to your newspaper’s readership? Either a little or a game-changing lot, depending on the title.

First-ever combined UK monthly print readership and online reach (as opposed to circulation) data from NRS and UKOM/Nielsen (called NRS/PADD) shows an average 20 percent uplift to total cross-platform audience when websites are factored in. But there is wide-ranging disparity between publishers.

The difference depends on the quality of, visibility for and traffic to newspapers’ counterpart sites.

  • Small web readerships for The Daily Star and Express, which have never done well online, grow the titles’ total readership by only eight percent.
  • But, for The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Scotsman, online audiences that exceed the print equivalent mean the titles’ total audiences are more than doubled.

Comparing NRS/PADD and ABC data shines a different light on the digital news pecking order…

  • MailOnline’s July unique browsers (ABC) may be triple its Daily Mail circulation (ABC). But, on NRS/PADD numbers, Daily Mail’s 14.1 million monthly print readership is double MailOnline’s 6.8 million web reach.
  • “Readership” is greater than “circulation” in this way because a copy of a single newspaper purchased by a consumer can be read by multiple people. Considering free viral consumption in this way is arguably a better comparison with web consumption, which also is rarely linked to purchase.
  • News International’s Times has not disclosed ABC data since introducing digital charges in 2010, but NRS/PADD gives its daily website a 295,000 reach, with 497,000 on Sundays.
  • One interesting curiosity is the London Evening Standard. Having grown its print readership to 4.5 million by becoming a commuter freesheet, its web reach of 531,000 adds just nine percent to total audience.

Across the 32 titles for which NRS/PADD data is available, total monthly print readership is 163 million – far greater than equivalent websites’ 63 million reader reach.

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