Sunday, August 9, 2015

This is odd, why all the sudden interest in Palm Beach Post circulation numbers?

[Below is an excerpt from a blog post on April 22nd. This post along with the link embedded in the first paragraph received a large amount of traffic over the last few days. Remember how surprised I was when I found the Post's circulation numbers; expected numbers much higher but others I talked to were not surprised at all (including a former employee in the editorial dept. who thought the numbers were too high). Without further ado, the Post's circulation data:]

Last Monday (4/20) wrote about The Palm Beach Post circulation numbers and how surprised I was. The Post reported in last Sunday's paper that two of their reporters were up for awards "in the category for newspapers with circulation of less than 150,000". A search turned up the Newspaper Data Exchange, or NDX, for short. They report the print circulation for the Post is approximately 85,000.

NDX provides this background:
For over a decade, newspaper circulation has been a topic of lively conversation for the media industry and its stakeholders. Beginning with circulation scandals and the heightened accountability they provoked, significant declines in print circulation and the new product development that followed, and the emergence of the ‘multi-platform’ newspaper, traditional weekday and Sunday paid print circulation has gone from ‘the’ story to an increasingly less prominent part of the evolving story of newspaper circulation. And yet, for a large group of marketers for whom traditional print circulars remain a primary driver of store traffic and sales, that aspect of the larger story is still of primary importance. 
This information from NDX is really quite interesting.

The circulation numbers of a long list of newspapers from 2013 and 2014 are broken down with numbers of print papers and digital access. Using only the print numbers from 2014 this will give you some idea how the Post stacks up in the industry:
  • Wall Street Journal: 1,356,292
  • Tampa Bay Times: 217,597
  • "South Florida" Sun-Sentinel: 115,172
  • "West" Palm Beach Post: 85,043
This is where it gets interesting. The total number of subscribers to the Post in 2014, both print and digital was 105,335. How many subscribers, such as myself, are counted twice? No doubt many people subscribe to the Post with offers which include both print and on-line access. The data from NDX doesn't break this information down for any newspaper. In other words, if you get the paper delivered and also have on-line access, you're counted twice. If this conclusion is inaccurate please feel free to comment.

Here are the numbers for the Post in 2014 compared to 2013 (the first set of numbers is print and the second digital):

2014: 85,043
2013: 93,759
Percent change: -9.3%

2014: 20,292
2013: 7,653
Percent change: +165.2%

From the numbers above it's hard not to see the trend. As NDX points out, the issue of newspaper circulation is extraordinarily complex. The data is crucial to advertisers and many others as well.