There’s not much good news about the state of newspapers in South Africa. Or the world, for that matter. The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has released its figures for the second quarter of 2013. And they show daily newspaper circulations declining, weekly newspapers remaining stable, the decline in weekend papers slowing down but hybrid newspapers growing.
“Perhaps it’s time for publishers to engage proactively with the industry and for print bodies to start promoting print. The recent Future of Media Conference highlighted the level of miscommunication and the amount of mischievous reporting being spread amongst marketers regarding the future of print,” the ABC said in its presentation.
Print is alive, said vice chair of the ABC, Gordon Patterson, but “struggling in may areas and for a variety of reasons, apart from reader choice. “ And the ABC warned that the next 90 days are crucial: “In the next 90 days, much of what happens from a print advertising income perspective next year will be decided as briefs, strategies and final presentations are approved. If there is going to be change it needs to happen now,” said the ABC.
Patterson warned that the crisis at Saarf, that came to head with the announcement that the National Association of Broadcasters and its free-to-air members e.tv and SABC had given a year’s notice to withdraw from the audience measurement organisation, will have an impact. He said the marketing industry had “reacted firmly to the thinly veiled threats to withhold the media owners research contribution”.
This, he said, could this result in “clarity” in terms of :
- ‘Whose money is it?’ Absolutely, albeit the solution could be a shared funding.
- Could this renewed marketer interests spread to other platforms? Probably.
- Could we see a completely new Saarf as we go into 2014? Certainly.
- Are marketers going to play a more significant role in shaping AMPS. RAMS, TAMS etc? Without a doubt.
- The ABC shared a global review newspaper circulation that once more showed a decline in the six months ended 31 March, “but the dip was slight, a major change from a few years ago, when print circulation dove sharply every time new data was released”.
Patterson said declines in newspaper circulation have eased since the AAM adopted new measurement guidelines for 2012, including the addition of digital editions, which include tablet or smartphone apps, PDF replicas, metered or restricted-access websites, or e-reader editions.
The ABC also warned media planners and buyers that within a year, South Africa could have up to 30 new free-to-air television stations and more pay television options too. This, said Patterson, it will become harder to build reach, the costs of reach will increase but that there would be “opportunity for other high reach media platforms to cash in on the chaos”.
All indications are that SA marketers will be faced with 30+ FTA stations in 2014 and many more on Pay networks. The consequence will be:
The downward drive of daily newspapers is being “driven by inland titles with readers spoilt for choice” but within that sector, the biggest declining titles Q2 on Q1 are down less than 5%. Inland circulation declined annually by 8% (364 000 copies) over the period. However Q2 only declined by 3% compared to Q1.
Coastal circulation declined annually by 4.3% (102 000 copies) over the period. The biggest declines were the Daily Sun, The Star, Beeld and the Pretoria News.
- Circulation has declined annually by 6.76% since 2009, equivalent to 466 000 copies.
- However, Q2 declined by 3.1% (47,000 copies), compared to Q1 2013.
- English titles have declined by 7.6% annually (389 000 copies) over the period.
- Afrikaans titles have declined by 6.4% annually (89 000 copies) over the period.
- Vernacular titles have increased by 2.9% annually (12 000 copies) over the period.
Weekly newspapers are stable, the ABC reported, but of concern is that vernacular title, Ilanga, is down 16% year-on-year and 8.5% on Q1. Another steep drop was that of The Zimbawean. Other vernacular titles were up 16% on 2009. Interestingly, the biggest growth was seen in two motoring titles, Motorsport World and Auto Week.
- English titles have declined annually by 5.7% (402 000 copies) over the period.
- Afrikaans titles have declined by annually by 5.1% (120 000 copies) over the period.
- Vernacular titles have grown annually by 16.1% (94 000 copies) over the period.
The steepest declines were in Sunday Sun, City Press, Beeld Saterdag, Volksblad Saterdag and Sondag.
Local newspapers remain stable but hybrids are up 4.9%. “Impressive given the conditions,” Patterson commented. Circulation has increased annually by 3.9% (24 000 copies) over the period. Q2, however, increased by 4.9% (8 000 copies) compared to Q1.
The consumer magazine outlook is also not so pretty, down some 13%, which is disappointing, says the ABC. Circulation declined annually by 0.8% (277 000 copies) over the period, although performance over the past year has been particularly disappointing, declining by 13% (930 000 copies). But good news for The Big Issue SA which climbed to 12 037 from 10 323 and is back on a monthly print cycle.
The woman’s general category saw a 4.2% drop after two consecutive periods of category stability. Kuier continued its excellent growth, up a further 33%. Other key titles in the sector took a hit with True Love down 24% and Real showing a decline of 27%. Rooi Rose grew 17% and Sarie dropped 5%.
The consumer travel category saw an increase in circulation of 6% (64 000 copies) over the period, but, said the ABC, it reflected “a considerable fluctuation between 2011 and 2012, resulting from erratic annual titles”.
Business to business titles are down 1.2% (65 000 copies) over the period while custom publishing increased annually by 2.7% (1 303 000 copies) over the period. Q2 increased by 57, 000 copies compared to Q1