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Declining circulation of print newspapers occurs alongside shift in emphasis to online versions

In March 2012, The Daily MailThe GuardianThe TelegraphThe SunThe IndependentThe Times and The Financial Times all reported year-on-year decreases in headline circulation, which includes subscriptions, overseas distribution and bulk sales. In the same period there were increases in the unique audiences of MailOnline (www.dailymail.co.uk), Guardian Online (www.guardian.co.uk), Telegraph Online (www.telegraph.co.uk) and the website of The Sun (www.thesun.co.uk). While audiences of The Independent’s website (www.independent.co.uk) showed no change, the online versions of The Times (www.thetimes.co.uk) and The Financial Times (www.ft.com) both experienced double digit declines (Figure 4.58).

The general trend is falling engagement with print formats. The Independent saw the greatest decrease (44.7%), which might be attributed in part to the launch of its sister title in October 2010. In March 2012, i had a headline circulation of 273,793, compared to 100,672 for The Independent.[1] The Independent has also cut back on bulk sales and overseas distribution, adversely affecting its headline circulation. The Financial Times and The Guardian experienced reductions of a broadly similar magnitude (16.8% and 16.3% respectively), while these titles have increasingly focused on expanding their online presence, through the promotion of mobile and tablet versions. According to figures released by The Financial Times, 20% of its online page views were on mobile in 2011.[2] Guardian News and Media launched a free application for the iPad in October 2011, and the publisher claimed over 500,000 downloads by January 2012.[3] After this trial offer expired, the price increased to £10 per month.

Research by Enders Analysis claims that newspaper publishers have expanded their reach and increased the share of the total time spent reading news and information online, from 15% in Q4 2010 to 35% in Q4 2011.[4] Figure 4.58 demonstrates the shift in consumption between web-based and print formats, and the varying degrees of success with which publishers have managed to substitute audiences. It is important to stress that the platforms are not necessarily substitutional, and indeed might be considered complementary. The majority of these sites allow users to access content free of charge, generating revenue principally through display advertising and added-value services, such as applications for tablets. However, The Times and The Financial Times have both adopted paid-for models of online newspaper content consumption, and the relative success of different titles cannot be evaluated entirely in terms of their unique audiences.

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