ABC Regionals: all you need to know about their print decline and digital growth

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Jasper Jackson, TheMediaBriefing Experts' Blog, Newspapers

Total local and regional newspaper circulation fell more than four percent over the second half of 2012, with 620,000 fewer copies sold. Without the buffer of free titles, paid-for circulation was down 6.4 percent, year on year.

Total average net circulation for titles reporting each six months to the Audit Bureau of Circulations stood at 14.8 million in H2 2012, compared to 15.4 million six months earlier, meaning the sector is falling faster than national newspapers in terms of print circulation.

If this rate of decline continues, regional newspapers will have lost 39 percent of their circulation between 2012 and 2018, and the total average number of copies sold per issue would stand at just over 9 million.


Comparative falls

The overall fall masks some signficant variation between regional media groups:

-- Of the top five, Johnston Press suffered worst losing more than 10 percent of circulation of its total circulation between the end of 2011 and 2013.

-- It was closely followed by Trinity Mirror, which saw circulation fall by 8.6 percent - while Newsquest lost 4.5 percent.

-- Combined, the two groups which now make up Local World - Northcliffe and Illfe - lost 4.2 percent. However, titles at the smaller of the two Illfe actually fared far better, with circulation down 0.2 percent compared to 6 percent at Northcliffe. 

-- Archant, now the smallest of the five groups, did comparatively well, losing just 1.9 percent of its circulation over the year. 

Digital provided a small birght spark. The regional newspaper web properties which reported their figures to the ABC saw a total of 38.6 million unique browsers across their sites, up 17 percent from 33 million a year previously. 

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