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January 16, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:49am

Telegraph pulls out of ABC circulation audit to focus on subscriber-first strategy

By Charlotte Tobitt

Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, is pulling out of the ABC newspaper circulation audit, saying it is no longer a “key metric” for its subscriber-first strategy.

The group said it would instead publish its core subscriber numbers each month for the first time as it focuses on its target of reaching 10m registered users and 1m paying subscribers by 2023.

The latest ABC figures, published today, were the last that will include the Daily and Sunday Telegraph titles, the group confirmed.

They show the Daily Telegraph had an average circulation of 317,817 last month while the Sunday Telegraph was on 248,288. Both saw a 12 per cent decline from December 2018.

All other national newspapers still take part in the ABC audit, whose chief executive said the decision was “clearly disappointing”.

Simon Redlich said: “We understand the Telegraph’s wish to promote their growing subscription numbers across print and digital, but believe that doing so via an industry-agreed ABC standard would be the best route.

“We see it as a straightforward development of current reporting and remain open to working with the Telegraph, as with all publishers, on developing metrics which support their strategies.”

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The number of paying digital Telegraph subscribers surpassed the number in print for the first time in its 164-year history last month.

The title said it had 213,868 digital subscribers and 209,443 in print in December, and claimed it had a “very healthy” average revenue per subscription of £194.

TMG said its subscriber figures will be independently assured by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, with the most recent audit in December and the next one due in March.

The company said today: “At the Telegraph Media Group, we are delighted with the progress that we have made to future proof our journalism to thrive long term, delivering a transformation whilst maintaining profitability.

“The group is focused on a subscriber-first strategy underpinned by long term investment in The Telegraph’s digital transformation.

“This is evidenced by the number of paying subscribers and registrants since we switched to a paywall format and registered-access model… whilst maintaining a very healthy average revenue per subscription.”

TMG said that the election meant its politics section was its “biggest subscription driver” in December, which became a record month for new sign ups.

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