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  1. Data
  2. Audience Data
April 15, 2024

Sun and Mail neck and neck in terms of UK audience reach – but one edges ahead

Statistical dead heat continues for UK's two biggest commercial newsbrands.

By Charlotte Tobitt

The Sun is narrowly the biggest commercial newsbrand in the UK in terms of overall reach, according to new Pamco data.

The Sun has a total monthly brand reach, including online and print, of 26.5 million – just beating the Mail titles’ 26.3 million.

However, given the margin of error in the Pamco survey, the two continue to be in a statistical dead heat – as Press Gazette previously reported last year.

The Pamco data (which the body describes as being for H1 2024) combines November 2023 online data from Ipsos iris with print circulation data from the period between December 2021 and December 2023, which is integrated with a survey of 22,000 people per year.

Pamco, otherwise known as the Publishers Audience Measurement Company, no longer releases figures by brand but publishers instead opt to share data privately with advertising partners. Press Gazette has seen a selective sample.

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Separate monthly audience figures show Mail Online is the clear winner versus The Sun website in terms of online audience engagement. The latest Ipsos iris digital figures for February show readers and viewers spent 1.6 billion minutes with Mail Online during the month compared to The Sun on 337.9 million minutes.

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Both The Sun and the Mail have seen their total reach according to Pamco fall in the past six months amid a drop in referrals from social media platforms and Google search results.

Last September Press Gazette reported the Daily MailMail on Sunday and Mail Online had a combined estimated monthly reach of 27.3 million while The Sun was on 27.2 million.

In the new data, The Sun also beats the Mail on a weekly basis with an overall brand reach of 17.8 million versus 16.1 million.

Daily, The Sun is on 6.9 million compared to the Mail brand on 6.4 million.

Digital Pamco audience data for Sun and Mail

On a digital-only basis, The Sun continues to have the biggest UK daily reach of 4.8 million versus Mail Online on 4.4 million.

Weekly, The Sun website continues to lead on 14.5 million followed by Mail Online on 12.8 million.

But on a monthly basis the brands are neck and neck in terms of digital reach with 23.2 million each.

This monthly figure is just below The Sun's digital audience total for 2023 of 23.8 million as cited in its company accounts last week. This was down 14% year-on-year from 27.8 million.

The Sun cited the "volatility of social platforms’ approach toward news content". The accounts were for the year to 2 July 2023 and it appears these industry-wide trends continued downwards later in the year.

The Mail has recently focused on promoting its social media growth - particularly on Tiktok - and its video and audio strategies.

In January it announced it had reached a total of ten million followers on Tiktok across its various accounts. Its main Daily Mail page alone now has 8.5 million.

In audio and video, Jamie East arrived as head of podcasts last summer and quickly launched four new shows with a further 19 in pre-production while a weekly talk show hosted by columnists Andrew Pierce and Sarah Vine has helped to expand the Mail's Youtube presence.

The Sun's own recent video growth has been led by News Studios, a new division that is creating "short-form bitesize content for immediate consumption, as well as long-form shows edited for on-demand viewing" across News UK's brands.

The Sun's first major launch last month was a weekly show hosted by political editor Harry Cole called Never Mind The Ballots, airing on its website and on Youtube.

The Mail is also concentrating on deepening relationships with its "huge, loyal, engaged, direct audience" via a partial paywall on Mail Online, which launched in the UK in January and is so far "exceeding expectations" on subscription sign-ups. The aim is that this will help it boost its direct audience rather than relying on the likes of Google and Facebook for traffic.

Pamco data for total UK national news market

The combined UK newsbrand market reaches 46.2 million people per month, 40.6 million weekly and 26.3 million each day.

The monthly reach saw no change compared to the H2 2023 data release while the weekly and daily figures grew by 1%.

National print newspaper reach was down 4% on a monthly basis to 20.6 million, 5% weekly (to 16.4 million) and 7% daily (to 9.1 million).

This was offset by narrow growth online where newsbrands were up 1% to a monthly reach of 41 million, up 2% weekly to 34.5 million, and up 4% daily to 20.6 million.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
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  • Other C-Suite
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  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
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  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
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  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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