U.S. Daily Newspaper Circulation down 8% in 2016 (6/06/2017)

U.S. Daily Newspaper Circulation down 8% in 2016 (6/06/2017)

Pew Research Center study shows the decline tool weekday circulation down to 35 million and Sunday circulation to 38 million. 

In 2016, total U.S. daily newspaper circulation, which combines print and digital, fell an estimated 8% to 35 million for weekday and 38 million for Sunday, according to the latest annual Pew Research Center study, released this past week and published by Midland Paper’s Paperclips News. Those numbers mark the 28th consecutive year of declines, which were highest in print circulation. Weekday print circulation decreased 10%, while Sunday decreased 9%, the lowest levels since 1945.

Newspaper advertising revenue also decreased in 2016, compared with the year before. 

The total estimated newspaper ad revenue for 2016 was $18 billion, based on the Pew Research Center’s analysis of financial statements for publicly-traded newspaper companies. This marks a 10% decrease from 2015.

Digital ads accounted for 29% of total newspapers advertising revenue in 2016, up from a quarter in 2015.
Circulation revenue was an estimated $11 billion, similar to the numbers in 2015. Perhaps this justifies many publishers moving to a “subscription-first model,” rather than relying solely on advertising revenue.

For example, The New York Times added more than 500,000 digital subscriptions in 2016 — a 47% year-over-year rise. The Wall Street Journal added more than 150,000 digital subscriptions, a 23% rise.

However, gains in circulation revenue are still not high enough to account for losses in ad revenue, a pattern many publishers have reported in recent quarter earnings reports.

Average circulation for the top 20 U.S. alt-weekly papers is just over 61,000. This is a 6% decline from 2015.

Pew says digital circulation is more difficult to gauge, but it projects the numbers have been roughly steady, with weekday down 1% and Sunday up 1%.