Regional ABCs: Part-free strategy hits MEN sales

The Manchester Evening News's paid for circulation was hit hard by its part-paid part-free strategy introduced in May 2006, plunging 26.8 per cent to 94,018 in the latest set of regional ABCs.

The decline partly reflects dramatic cover price increases last year, most notably on Friday when the price went from 10p to 35p.

Despite the seemingly tragic headline figure the MEN's audience reach has expanded dramatically since the free strategy was put in place. The MEN axed its free Lite edition in favour of 50,000 free copies of the full paid-for title, distributed in the city centre. That figure was later increased to 60,000 copies.

In a statement the MEN said the dip was "entirely in line with our expectations."

It said: "The paid figures continue to reflect the increase in cover price. We have also decreased our involvement with traditional canvassing and direct delivery schemes in the area. The figure looks set to stabalise at its current level of 90,000 copies Monday to Friday.

"The free editions of the MEN have increased steadily throughout the latter part of 2006 and now stand at an audited figure of 77,831 copies. This therefore gives the MEN its highest combination figure since 2000, at 176.051 copies each week day."

Editor Paul Horrocks has told Press Gazette he would not rule out turning the paper into a fully free product in the future.

Following the Birmingham Mail's dramatic £1 million relaunch in 2005, the heavy decline is finally starting to slow down, although not a great amount of solace can be found in its 13.1 per cent drop in Monday to Saturday sales to 72,218. In the last period, the paper was down 17.5 per cent.

The Mail did, however, see a positive swing of 5.3 per cent in the second half of 2006 on its Monday to Friday sales.

Editor Steve Dyson remains buoyant. He said: "As we said before, we expected the rate of decline to improve in the second half of the year.

"With this in mind these latest ABC figures are encouraging, and going forward we fully expect this trend to improve still further.

"We however are not complacent but optimistic that we can continue this stability in a challenging marketplace."

Only three regional evening papers increased their year on year circulation.

The Scunthorpe Telegraph was up 2.8 per cent to 21,278. The paper was also one of the best performing evenings in the last set of ABCs.

The Oxford Mail saw an increase of 1.5 per cent to a circulation of 25,437. And the South Wales Evening Post looks to have put on readers following its move to overnight printing — albeit just 0.1 per cent.

There is slight evidence that The Coventry Telegraph's move to printing overnight is helping sales recover. It reported a dip in sales of 5.9 per cent. This time last year, it had fallen by 7.3 per cent.

The Glasgow Evening Times did not suffer from the Daily Record's launch of a free evening "PM" edition. Its circulation was down just 2.5 per cent. Record PM editions are also being rolled out to Aberdeen and Dundee.

Among the worst performers in the sector in terms of sales were the Birmingham Mail, Manchester Evening News, the Doncaster Star (-13.4 per cent), the Peterborough Evening Telegraph (10.3 per cent), the Evening Leader in Wrexham (-10.3 per cent) and the Telegraph and Argus in Bradford (-9.5 per cent).

 

Evening papers — Monday to Saturday circulation and year on year change

The Argus Sussex 33,860 -3.7%
Barrow – North West Evening Mail 18,973 -1.8%
Bath Chronicle 12,363 -5.0%
Birmingham Mail 72,218 -13.1%
The Bolton News 30,799 -4.4%
Bournemouth – The Daily Echo 33,347 -1.6%
Bradford – Telegraph & Argus 38,052 -9.5%
Bristol Evening Post 53,826 -4.3%
Burton Mail 15,280 -1.1%
Cambridge Evening News 27,831 -7.9%
Carlisle – News and Star East 17,046 -3.0%
Carlisle – News and Star West 6,917 -6.2%
The Citizen 26,907 -3.3%
Colchester Evening Gazette 23,142 -5.7%
Coventry Telegraph & The Pink 49,571 -5.9%
Derby Evening Telegraph 45,522 -4.8%
Doncaster Star 5,099 -13.4%
Exeter – Express & Echo 21,839 -8.7%
Express & Star (West Midlands) 142,433 -5.4%
The Gazette – Blackpool 31,114 -3.7%
Gloucestershire Echo 22,033 -2.1%
Grimsby Telegraph 37,107 -3.1%
Halifax – Evening Courier 21,856 -3.7%
Hartlepool Mail 18,992 -6.0%
Huddersfield Daily Examiner 27,046 -4.2%
Hull Daily Mail & Sports Mail 59,834 -5.0%
Ipswich – Evening Star 21,352 -2.1%
Lancashire Evening Post 32,783 -6.0%
Lancashire Evening Telegraph – Blackburn 32,108 -2.6%
Leeds – Yorkshire Evening Post 58,114 -8.1%
Leicester Mercury 73,634 -5.7%
Lincolnshire Echo 23,420 -4.5%
Liverpool Echo 110,804 -7.8%
Manchester Evening News 94,018 -26.8%
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Evening Chronicle 77,056 -7.6%
Northampton Chronicle & Echo 21,114 -5.8%
Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph – Kettering 23,378 -6.5%
Norwich – Eastern Evening News 24,398 -6.2%
Nottingham Evening Post 62,077 -9.2%|
Oldham Evening Chronicle 22,584 -8.4%
Oxford Mail 25,437 1.5%
Reading Evening Post 15,720 -9.2%
Peterborough Evening Telegraph 18,757 -10.6%
Plymouth – The Herald 38,914 -4.5%
Portsmouth – News & Sports Mail 56,437 -3.6%
Scarborough Evening News 14,108 -4.0%
Scunthorpe Telegraph 21,278 2.8%
The Sentinel 65,294 -7.4%
Sheffield Star & Green 'Un 55,307 -7.8%
Shropshire Star 73,941 -4.5%
South Shields – Shields Gazette 19,732 -3.0%
Southampton – Southern Daily Echo 40,461 -2.4%
Southend, Basildon and Castle Point Echo 36,937 -1.2%
Sunderland Echo & Football Echo 44,268 -3.3%
Swindon Advertiser 21,856 -1.2%
Teesside – Evening Gazette 53,739 -3.3%
Torquay – Herald Express 25,261 -3.1%
Weymouth – Dorset Evening Echo 19,112 -1.7%
Wigan Evening Post 9,345 -4.5%
Worcester News 18,425 -2.3%
Wrexham Evening Leader 21,838 -10.3%
York – The Press 34,070 -4.7%
Cardiff – South Wales Echo – Evening 51,386 -5.9%
South Wales Argus – Evening 28,818
South Wales Evening Post 54,745 0.1%
Aberdeen – Evening Express 55,031-3.2%
Edinburgh – Evening News 53,584 -5.4%
Glasgow – Evening Times 79,365 -2.5%
Greenock Telegraph 17,962 -1.1%
Belfast Telegraph 87,782 -6.4%

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