Readership survey at odds with newspaper sales figures

By Jean Morgan

Widely differing assessments of readership estimates versus
circulation figures are the most striking feature of new National
Readership Service tables released this week.

According to the NRS, The Guardian’s readership over the year to
June increased by seven per cent and inthe last half was up 21 per
cent. Yet the ABC figure for August puts the paper’s sale down 6.3 per
cent year on year.

The tables show The Times up six per cent and
The Independent two per cent in the 12-month period, more in keeping
with climbing ABC figures since they went tabloid.

NRS client
services manager Steve Millington said, short term, the service’s
estimated figures will often be at odds with sales, but maintains that
the underlying trend will see the two sets of data becoming much closer.

The
first tables in the new format show striking falls at Mirror Group
Newspapers. The Daily Mirror and Daily Record have dropped by 11 per
cent and 14 per cent respectively. The People, Sunday Mirror and Sunday
Mail havefallen by 18 per cent, nine per cent and 10 per cent
respectively. The one bright star is the Racing Post, up 25 per cent.

The Sun also experienced a heavy fall of 10 per cent and the News of the World was down by eight per cent.

Also down were the Sunday Post, by 11 per cent, and the Sunday Express by one per cent.

But
six Sunday newspapers had much better results. The Observer was up 13
per cent, The Independent on Sunday rose by eight per cent, The Sunday
Times and The Mail on Sunday, both increased by five per cent, The
Sunday Telegraph took a rise of two per cent, and the Daily Star Sunday
added one per cent.

NRS has also released figures for six
Scottish newspapers and the Yorkshire Post. The best results came at
the Dundee Courier, up nine per cent, and The Herald and The Scotsman,
both up five per cent.

The real crashes came at the Edinburgh
Evening News (down 16 per cent), the Yorkshire Post, down 12 per cent
and the Evening Times, Glasgow, which dropped by seven per cent.

Results offer ‘colour’, says PPA

The Periodical Publishers Association has defended the National
Readership Survey, which also came out this week with results that
contradict the magazine ABC figures released last month, writes Alyson
Fixter.

While the ABCs showed circulation rises for titles like IPC’s NME
(up 5.2 per cent) and NatMags’ Good Housekeeping (up 13.9 per cent),
the NRS suggested NME’s average readership had fallen by 13 per cent,
while Good Housekeeping had only reached six per cent more readers.

The
NRS, which is intended to be an extra tool for publishers to use when
selling advertising, samples 170,000 readers nationwide and gathers
information on income, social group and location as well as what titles
they read.

Phil Cutts, head of marketing at the PPA, said the NRS
was not meant to offer “statement of fact” like the ABC figures, but
could “give colour” for advertisers wanting to know what kind of person
was reached by a title.

He added: “It says how many readers were
in a particular social class, how much education they had, who the
title was passed on to and so on.”

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