View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Data
  2. Audience Data
March 8, 2024updated 11 Mar 2024 9:59am

Regional ABCs: Print decline for UK dailies averaged 19% in second half of 2023

Data reveals further large drops in UK regional print circulation, but there are digital gains for some.

By Aisha Majid

UK regional daily print newspaper circulations fell by an average of 19% year-on-year in the second half of 2023 according to the latest ABC figures.

The 401 non-dailies audited by ABC meanwhile saw their January to December circulations decline by an average of 16% compared to 2022, according to Press Gazette’s analysis.

The figures take into account paid print copies, paid print subscriptions and, where relevant, free copies and digital editions. The small number of digital subscriptions reported are also included as per the ABC headline figures.

No daily titles bucked the trend of year-on-year decline in circulation in the last six months of 2023.

Top of the list in terms of circulation perforamance was the Irish News (average circulation of 23,615) which reported the smallest decline at 7%, making it again the only one of the 54 daily titles audited by ABC that saw a fall of less than 10%. 

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
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • 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.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

National World’s The Scotsman (circulation of 7,710), Newsquest’s Dorset Echo (4,871) and Bolton News (3,797) and DC Thomson's Aberdeen Evening Express (9,449) were all down 12% year-on-year. 

Content from our partners
<a></a>Key ways to futureproof your media career as journalism job cuts bite deep
Slow online ads cost UK publishers £50m a year: Here's how to fix them
Mather Economics and InsurAds combine to help publishers boost revenue

At the other end of the table was Reach’s the Manchester Evening News, hardest hit among the dailies for a second year in a row. Print sales were 38% down year-on-year as average circulation fell to 7,315. Reach made the decision to end free copies of the newspaper in August 2022 so this is still impacting the comparative figures.

Eight of the ten titles with the biggest year-on-year falls were owned by Reach, whose daily titles included in the ABC data saw a combined average decline of 25%.

The Hull Daily Mail (average circulation of 5,763, down 31%), Coventry Telegraph (3,213, down 28%) and Teesside Gazette (4,877, down 27%) were among the Reach titles that saw circulation drops of over a quarter. Print nevertheless still makes up 75% of revenues of Reach, which also publishes a number of the UK's best known national newsbrands including the Mirror, with digital on 25%.

Reach has increased print cover prices to offset declining online advertising revenue over the last year.

At a publisher level Newsquest fared best among those with at least five titles reporting to ABC for 2023, although it still reported a combined decline of 16% across its 22 titles included in the data.

The Irish News has taken the top spot by readership from 2022’s most-widely circulated print daily, Aberdeen Press & Journal (22,927) which is now in second.

DC Thomson-owned The Courier was third with an average circulation of 17,647. DC Thomson is one of a small group of local publishers that have also made some headway with digital subscriptions.

Among non-dailies, Newsquest’s Hunts Post saw the sharpest fall of 51% from 21,791 to 10,754, reflecting a smaller print run since the title is distributed free of charge.

It was among 22 non-daily titles to see circulation drops of over one third. Of the 401 non-daily titles in the data, 64 are free - of which all but 12 saw circulation drop as fewer copies were printed. 

London free paper Hackney Gazette, published by Newsquest (formerly Archant), almost tripled its average circulation which was up 172% year-on-year from 1,347 to 3,668.

A further five free Newsquest titles covering London, including Islington Gazette (average circulation of 4,887), Docklands & East London Advertiser (4,963), Newham Recorder (7,729), Ilford Recorder (5,749) and Ham and High Express (5,909) also saw circulation rises of at least 10%.

Paid non-dailies fared worse with only Aberdeen title Ellon Times seeing its circulation rise (up by 35%) although its average distribution per edition is just 138.

Online audience growth

Online audience data from Ipsos iris suggests that while print readership is falling, some brands are seeing growth in their online audiences.

Of the top 50 UK regional digital brands according to Ipsos iris data for January 2024, 19 saw an increase in audience size.

Bristol Live (5.3 million, up 180% compared to January 2023), Gloucestershire Live (2.8 million, up 127%), Worcester News (973,629, up 115%) and Oxford Mail (1.2 million, up 106%) all more than doubled their online reach.

Birmingham Live (11.2 million people) and Manchester Evening News (11 million) meanwhile saw large audiences of almost a quarter of the UK online population. 

Topics in this article : , , ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • 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.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network