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March 10, 2023updated 17 Nov 2023 2:24pm

Who reads the Daily Mail? Why biggest print title still has a huge influence

Circulation and demographic breakdown showing who reads the Daily Mail.

By Dominic Ponsford

The dead-tree press may be on its way out, but some print titles continue to wield enormous power in the UK – in particular the Daily Mail, the voice of middle England.

Whereas broadcasters are bound by impartiality, the Mail campaigns with gusto and is a title with forthright opinions. Its impact on UK public life is clear: from successfully campaigning for Britain’s exit from the European Union in 2016 to a British Journalism Awards-winning undercover investigation last year that saw plans for several smart motorways scrapped in the UK.

At any one time the Mail is running multiple campaigns, and more often than, not it wins them.

Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere has met prime ministers eight times since 2010, according to public disclosures. For example in late 2017, as Theresa May battled to get Brexit through Parliament and keep her government afloat, she found time to host a private dinner for then-editor Paul Dacre at Downing Street in October and also attend a party marking his 25 years in charge of the paper in November.

Daily Mail circulation

But who actually reads the Daily Mail and does its audience warrant the huge influence the title wields?

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Unlike The Times, Sun and Daily Telegraph, the Mail still publishes a public ABC figure. In January its average sale was just under 800,000 copies per day. That’s some way down from the two million copies per day that it was shifting in the 2000s, but still enough to make it the UK market leader on paid-for circulation.

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Second-placed title The Sun does not publish an ABC, but industry insiders believe the Mail is nowadays comfortably ahead of it.

Only free daily Metro circulates more copies (at 953,475 per day in January). But as a politically neutral title, it is not a rival for the Daily Mail in terms of influence.

Daily Mail circulation is being propped up by readership of its daily facsimile digital edition for tablet and mobile which shifts a further 152,494 copies (January ABC). The digital edition boasts a similar level of engagement (time spent) as the print paper.

Daily Mail readership: Demographic breakdown

During the week the Daily Mail actually only sells 683,530 copies per day, but this swells to a mighty 1.3 million on Saturdays.

In terms of readership, the Daily Mail says this equates to two million readers per day Monday to Friday and 2.9 million on a Saturday with people sharing copies.

According to the Daily Mail, its readers skew 54% female to 46% male. Some 83% are said to be homeowners and 69% own their homes outright.

Some 63% are ABC1 (upper and middle class) and some 366,000 are said to have savings of more £100,000.

The Daily Mail’s website reaches some 24 million readers per month in the UK (around half the online audience). This equates to a daily online audience of around four million in the UK.

According to the Daily Mail, the average age of a reader is 56.

So while the Daily Mail has seen print circulation decline since the mid-2000s heyday, it has held up better than its peers and probably more than held up its total audience via online and digital edition readers. It is clear to see why prime ministers are still keen to ingratiate themselves to its editor and owner.

Related Article: Who owns the Daily Mail?

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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
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  • CFO
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  • Other C-Suite
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  • Head of Department/Function
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  • 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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