Print media didn’t have a good story to tell in the release of the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation numbers for Q4 in 2017.
Losses were incurred “across the board” in the newspaper category, with a 2.1% drop from Q3 2017 and 5.1% from the previous year.
For magazines, the picture wasn’t by any means prettier with an 8.1% decline over Q3, and a nasty 16.6% decline over the prior year. The ABC reported “significant declines” occurred in the custom sector, but that the consumer side of magazine publishing suffered too.
Daily newspapers saw a decline in all categories, with a 17% drop from the previous year, and 8.3% from Q3. The numbers were impacted by the closure of The Times on 15 December which, t he ABC said, “changed the composition in favour of single copy sales”.
For weeklies, the numbers showed a 7.6% decline over Q3, and 7% decline over the prior year. Weekend papers saw a drop of 2.9% from Q3 and 12.3% downward trend from the previous year. Even free newspaper took a hit, with a 0.8% decline over Q3 and 1.8% over the prior year. Local newspapers dropped 2.6% from Q3, and 6.4% from the previous year.
Some individual newspapers saw slight increases, such as Die Burger (40 228), which recorded a 2.2% increase over quarter Q3 (39 146), offset by a general 5.7% (from 42 363) drop from the previous year. Business Day increased by 1.4% over Q3 (20 313 from 20 030), but declined by 8% over the prior year (from 22 069) while The Mercury in Durban increased by 1.2% (to 25 432) over Q3 (25 129), but declined by 2.8% (from 26 165) over the prior year.
Independent Media should be happy with the performance of The Post, which increased by 9.1% from Q3 (from 36 703 to 40 027), although it did drop by 7.9% over the prior year (43 482).
The Mail & Guardian, which changed ownership late in 2017, did report a marginal increase (from 27 766 to 27 969) increased marginally over Q3 but declined by 4.8% over the prior year (from 29 364). Mass market favourite, Soccer Laduma, dropped from 250 008 to 249 970 while Ilanga moved from 57 887 to 57 224.
What about the weekend press? A few marginal increases from Q3, but a downward trend over the previous year. The Weekend Post increased by 2.6% over Q3 (from 16 458 to 16 880), but declined by 6.9% over the prior year. Die Burger’s Saturday paper increased by 2.5% over Q3, but declined by 5.4% over the prior year while the Independent on Saturday reported an upward trend from 39 092 to 35 299, but declined by 4% over the prior year.
Sales of consumer magazines increased marginally over the previous year, up 1.4% but total magazines took a hit, declining 8.1% from Q3, and by 16.6% over the prior year. Business magazines also moved up 2.7% from the prior year, but had a marginal decline of 0.5% from Q3 2017. The picture for custom titles was not pretty, with a drop of 11.7% from Q3 and a nasty 30.7% over the prior year.
Overall, Business Brief turned in a sterling performance in a few short months, moving from 33 111 in Q3 to a whopping 56 396 in Q4, an increase of 70% – all in digital.
In terms of consumer magazines (women’s general interest), there was a slight increase of 1.2% over Q3 but a decline of 14.7% over the prior year. FAIRLADY reported decent increases 13.5% over Q3 (up from 32 975 to 37 431) and by 8.3% over the prior year (from 34 571).
True Love saw an increase of 15.3% (to 31 925 from 27 693) over Q3, but declined by 24.7% (from 42 373) over the prior year. Rooi Rose also saw upward movement of 10.5% over Q3 (63 818 to 70 546), but declined by 3.9% over the prior year (73 446).
The entertainment side of custom publishing is looking dire,declining by 45% over Q3 and by 76% over the prior year, highlighted by DStv Premium, which dropped 47% over Q3 (from 526 548 to 277 189) and by 65% over the previous year, from a high of 797 333.
Tomorrow we will report on the first PAMS release.