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October 21, 2014

After a decade of decline daily ‘broadsheet’ print circulations show signs of levelling off

By William Turvill

In five of the last six months, The Times has been the best performing national newspaper in terms of year-on-year circulation change.

This, along with the graph below which tracks average circulations for every month over the last ten years, suggests that its print circulation decline could be levelling off.

The line-graph below shows that The Times’s circulation has been relatively steady since April 2012, when it recorded an average circulation of 393,187, compared with 399,915 last month.

It is worth noting however that it reintroduced free 'bulk' circulation in September 2012, with 16,485, and there were 22,153 last month. In 2009, The Times dropped its bulk copies at a time when they represented 47,878 of its average daily circulation.

But even without these bulk copies, its circulation decline would be shallow – and this over a period in which the title's cover price has gone from £1 to £1.20 on weekdays.

The graph shows that The Daily Telegraph and Financial Times – which recieved two-thirds of its readership from online in the first half of 2014 – are not faring as well.

But The Guardian was the best performing daily title in January to March this year and its figures have also showed signs of levelling off – despite a price increase from £1.40 to £1.60 in January. In May, editor Alan Rusbridger told the BBC's Evan Davis in an interview: "Something rather odd has happened over the last six months, which is print has stopped falling, and it's actually growing. And I'm not sure we can completely explain that."

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The Independent’s circulation, meanwhile, was described by editor Amol Rajan in a Press Gazette interview as “low”, but “stable”.

He also pointed out that, with the i, founded in 2011, The Independent’s daily print circulation is back to its level of nearly 20 years ago.

DT = The Daily Telegraph, T = The Times, i = i, FT = Financial Times, I = The Independent

The graph below shows the circulations of tabloid daily newspapers over the last decade.

There appear to be fewer signs of circulations levelling off, but the Daily Express and Daily Star declines appear to be slowing. 

S = The Sun, DMa = Daily Mail, DMi = Daily Mirror, DE = Daily Express, DS = Daily Star

Below are the Sunday broadsheet circulations from the last ten years.

Although The Sunday Times was the best performing national title in May's ABCs, it does not appear to show a levelling off in the same way as its sister title.

The Independent on Sunday appears to have the shallowest general decline in circulation currently, although around half of its circulation – 53,803 copies – are bulks.

STi = The Sunday Times, STe = The Sunday Telegraph, O = The Observer, IoS = Independent on Sunday

Below are the Sunday tabloids.

Although The Sun on Sunday and Mail on Sunday have the biggest circulations, the smallest titles – the Daily Star Sunday, Sunday People and Sunday Express – appear to show the most levelling off.

SoS = The Sun on Sunday, MoS = The Mail on Sunday, SM = Sunday Mirror, SE = Sunday Express, SP = Sunday People, DSS = Daily Star Sunday

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