*The Daily Sun published its last print issue of the newspaper for regions other than Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West on Thursday. From today [4 May 2020] the mass market tabloid will only be available in a digital format in the five remaining provinces – Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
“The title’s core sales have always been in the northern provinces and retaining a national distribution footprint with very low (and declining) returns has not been an economically viable model for a while. Hence the business decision, a few months back already, to limit the distribution of the print edition to the northern provinces only,” Media24’s CEO of print media, Rika Swart, told The Media Online.
Eighty-one percent of the Daily Sun’s AIR reside in the north and in these regions alone, Daily Sun reaches 2.4 million readers.
“At the same time, we have started investing more in the digital future of this brand over the past two years: the website was redesigned in 2019 and optimised further for consumption on mobile (and keeping the realities of the Daily Sun market in mind), and we have consolidated our print and digital content creation and production to establish an integrated publishing model,” Swart added.
The Daily Sun’s circulation, like that of most newspapers, has been under pressure. In the 2019 Q4 ABCs (Sept – Dec 2019) it reported an ABC of 99 485, down 17% year-on-year.
Swart said the Daily Sun’s digital presence was significant. “Mapula Nkosi, the editor-in-chief, and her team have been doing a great job and the results have been excellent. In January 2020, the website recorded 97 137 average daily unique users, up 84% against January 2019, and 500 126 average daily unique page views, up 43% yoy.”
In the latest Publisher Audience Measurement Survey, the results of which were released in April 2020, lead consultant Peter Langschmidt reported smartphone penetration had increased to 64%. It’s “not a case of mobile first, its fast becoming a case of mobile only”, he said.
In a statement, Langschmidt said that with over 300 000 free wi-fi hotspots across the country, office usage and free mobile data services like Moya, “smartphones have allowed people to read everywhere – from commuter hubs to public spaces and stores. This has resulted in the rise of reading time, as in the early morning the number of people reading (predominantly on their phones) far outweighs the number listening to the radio”.
With a national lockdown in force, this trend had accelerated with online news publishers reporting an increase of 76% in their audiences.
“Daily Sun has strengthened our digital offering to include great content from all regions. Our easy-to-navigate site is the best source of informative and highly entertaining news. Our mobile platforms are about directly engaging our readers every hour of the day and creating a great environment where our readers form part of our team in creating content that is important to them,” said editor-in-chief, Mapula Nkosi.
“In line with international and national trends of readers migrating online, we are excited to be part of the journey of our readers’ evolution,” she added.
Swart said the final issue of Daily Sun in the regions outside the northern provinces was supposed to be on street last week. “However, to accommodate a late request from a longstanding advertising partner, we published another issue today [30 April 2020]. The fact that this final regional issue was not carrying a cover price was our farewell gift to our loyal readers in these areas.”
*The Daily Sun will cease all print publishing of the title in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, but Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga (the northern region) will still receive print newspapers. We apologise for the misleading headline.