The surprise success of Hull City Football Club in its first two months in the Premiership has had a “remarkable” effect on the local newspaper the Hull Daily Mail, boosting both print sales and online readership.
The Press Gazette Regional Press Awards daily newspaper of the year and multimedia publisher of the year, has revealed that it has seen a massive rise in online users and a rise in circulation on match report days thanks to its blanket coverage of a remarkable Premiership debut for Hull City which currently sees the team in third place, and level on points with Chelsea.
Tonight Hull City goes head-to-head with the London club..
Deputy editor David Bourn described the Hull City effect saying: “It’s been remarkable. it really has been gold dust for the Hull Daily Mail. I don’t think anyone can believe it [that HCFC is currently third]. It really is the stuff of dreams, we’re doing all we can to cash in on that.”
Like regional daily regional newspapers across the country, the newspaper’s circulation was down year on year for the first half of 2008, dropping 5.7 per cent to 56,287 although it was up 0.1 per cent period on period.
Bourn said the paper’s football coverage has helped stem the circulation decline with. After every Hull City match the Northcliffe daily publishes an eight-page pull-out, and sales on these days are generally around 3,000 copies up on the weekly average.
For post-match reports of the club’s triumphs against London clubs Tottenham and Arsenal, sales of the paper have been up year-on-year.
The Hull Daily Mail website has been offering live and interactive coverage of the game, done in a running blog format that users can comment on. Bourne said page views on match days are up by 30,000 compared with before the start of the season.
Unique visitors to the website are up 51 per cent year-on-year to 830,000 per month and page impressions are up 25 per cent to 5.3 million, but Bourn is keen to emphasise that the paper’s multimedia coverage across all sectors has played a key role in that growth.
The website has also been hosting big match text-based debates live online with one of the paper’s sports writers or experts hosting it.
As well as the post-match pull-out, each day the newspaper has three pages of Hull City coverage, and the day before a game in the sports section the paper has five pages of previews.
The newspaper also has a weekly column written by Hull City manager Phil Brown.
Tonight’s match against Chelsea is the first big mid-week game for the club, so print deadlines have been pushed back until 1am toget tomorrow morning’s supplement out and there will be a full team editorial team at work until late tonight.
Bourn said the news pages have also been taken over by following the furtunes of Hull City: ‘We’ve had anything up to ten pages of coverage including the front page-lead after big games. We’re sending news and sports reporters to home and away games. We have a news reporter going away with the fans every time, as that’s the kind of stuff the nationals would never do. We’re focusing not just on the team’s journey, but the fans’ journey through the Premiership.”
Although HCFC’s success has drawn attention from the nationals, Bourn said that the football club are aware that the Hull Daily Mail’s support will be unconditional.
‘We launched a fans’ charter at the start of the season, where we got fans to sign up to it and say they will enjoy the club’s time in the Premiership and not get upset if they get beaten week in week out,’said Bourn. ‘Little did we think we were going to win week in week out. The club love us for that and know we’ll always be there for them, whist the fly-by-night nationals will be gone when the going gets tough.”
‘They’re so far ahead of where anyone expected them to be, the whole of Hull just wants them to go out and enjoy themselves.”