Papers fail to score with World Cup coverage

The World Cup proved to be a less successful event for newspapers than for broadcasters. The fact that circulation performance was almost universally worse this June than last year suggests that the Cup may even have become a negative for papers — possibly reflecting increased competition from the internet.

The Guardian and The Observer continue to feel the benefit of being up against figures a year ago which pre-date their relaunches in full colour and Berliner format. Guardian sales are also believed to have been boosted by its series of animal posters.

The Observer's performance is more impressive, with not only the larger year-on-year increase, but with a total which reflects the paper's best June performance for at least six years.

Seen in a more historic context, The Guardian's 380,211 gross circulation total is well below the total from June 2003 (387,188) — before The Times and The Independent launched tabloid versions.

The failure of The Guardian to regain its previous circulation benchmark of around 400,000 should be set against a huge increase in internet traffic. The paper's website, Guardian Unlimited, attracted 12,184,598 users in June 2006, compared with 7,241,414 in June 2003.

The Guardian offered extensive World Cup-related internet content — as did The Daily Telegraph and The Times — and time will tell to what extent the latter two offset their decline in print sales with improved internet readership.

Neither Telegraph.co.uk nor Times Online have yet been audited by ABC Electronic for June.

The hard-fought circulation battle and price war between the Daily Record and The Sun in Scotland is getting extremely close. The Scottish Sun sold 393,337 versus Scottish sales for the Daily Record of 395,140 — this 1,803 gap compares with a lead of 69,156 for the Record in June 2005.

The Record has now reduced its pricecutting voucher, which means next month the cut-price Scottish Sun will sell for 10p, versus a with-voucher price for the Daily Record of 20p.

The Daily Mail kept its net year-onyear sales drop to a respectable 0.74 per cent with the help of sales added by the new Republic of Ireland edition, selling 54,641. This compares with a sale of 9,801 for the Daily Mail in the Republic a year ago. The Mail on Sunday's year-onyear rise was aided by two free DVDs, a CD promotion and the ever popular "win a dream cottage" promotion — in conjunction with its daily stablemate.

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