The 0.05% “gain”

Normally I would not blog on monthly UK circulation data as they all seem stable on a monthly basis – which is the reason I usually only report on the yearly data.

But as some UK media (see for instance The Guardian) seem to make quite a thing from the fact that Rupert Murdoch’s free evening daily thelondonpaper showed a small increase in its last full month of circulation (the last issue is expected to print on September 18), we can look into the details.

Auditing organization ABC has reported strikingly similar circulation figures for Metro (average 1,334,00 in 2009), London Lite (401,000) and thelondonpaper (500,000).

This means we are dealing not with papers being actually distributed but with the “print run” – the papers being printed for distribution. The auditing organization usually checks the books of the publisher to see how many copies are printed.

thelondonpaper printed in August on average 253 copies more than in July, leading to a 0.05% increase in “circulation”. This is of course totally irrelevant – for advertisers readership data (see previous post) is what really counts. Both London Lite and thelondonpaper have a readership of 1.1 million with London Lite having more readers per copy.

The exception in the stable circulation story is City AM. The free business paper has a rather jumpy circulation as can be seen in the graph below.

3 Responses to “The 0.05% “gain””

  1. Stefano Hatfield Says:

    Hello my friend, I am sorry to say you are wrong – at least in our case. It IS the actual number distributed NOT the print run. Although it is true that the increase of a few is irrelevant – we have tried to hold to 500k exactly for two years now! We actually could distribute many more – the demand is there. My poor circ guys have had to go through a gazillion hoops with ABC to record our numbers every month. And, in the week that the paper is due to close, regardless of the bigger picture, I think Nick Hallett and Paul Lamoureaux deserve credit where credit’s due. Best wishes, Stefano Hatfield, thelondonpaper editor (for one more week)

  2. Piet Bakker Says:

    Hi Stefano. Sorry for the accusation then. This would mean that all 405,559 copies in street distribution are actually handed out, and the remaining 95,000 copies all picked up from boxes and racks? This is good performance by Nick & Paul. (pick-up rate 100%)

    My main point was of course that readership should be more important for the papers’ performance than circulation. I am still puzzled by the circulation obsession in the UK.

    And of course… sorry to see the paper go… There could be good business reason, but still it must be hard for the staff. And for the 1.1 million readers.

  3. Stefano Hatfield Says:

    am replying again in the most good-humoured way possible…
    You will of course know that no newspaper distributes every single copy it prints. My simple point in respect of Nick and Paul’s outstanding work is that – under instruction – they have held back as close to (but above) the heavily-audited 500,000 as possible with as minimal a return rate as possible. And … surely you know that we charge advertisers our page rates against the quality of that 500,000, which is why we don’t let it become eg 750,000.
    Meanwhile, yes, the readers have told us in their droves that they will miss the paper for sure…
    Best again, Stefano