NADbank, the company that measures newspaper readership through audience surveys, came out with its latest report recently, which on the surface doesn’t show much to write home about. Overall, the Journal de Montréal is still the most read newspaper in the metro area with 1.17 million readers, or 1.25 million if you include digital. (Quebecor has its press release crowing about this with some cherry-picked numbers, as well as some slides comparing its demographics with La Presse.)
But reading a bit deeper into the numbers and we see some interesting facts popping up.
La Presse has two and a half times the Journal’s digital readership. Two major changes explain this. First is La Presse+, the iPad app launched last year that’s the new flagship product for that company. But even with all the hype, the data shows only a 3% increase in the number of people reporting they read La Presse in a digital format in 2013. The bigger factor is a 9% drop in the Journal de Montréal’s digital readership, which is probably explained mainly by the setup of a paywall in September 2012.
Métro has more weekly print readers than La Presse. Even though La Presse’s print readership is up by 5%, Métro’s up by twice that, and can now claim to be the #2 most read newspaper in Montreal. (It already claims to be the #1 paper on the island.) Métro has 903,900 print readers a week compared to La Presse’s 879,200. And that’s with Métro putting out one fewer edition a week. But La Presse has 28% more people reporting they read that newspaper “yesterday” (i.e. the day before the survey was taken), meaning La Presse’s readership is more loyal and more interested than Métro’s.
24 Heures shows double-digit gains in print readers. Compared to 2012, 24 Heures had a great year, at least in print (and it doesn’t hesitate to tell people that). The number of people reporting having read the paper the day before shot up 25%, from 252,900 to 317,300. Weekly, the paper is up 15.5%. But three years after 24 Heures wrestled away the right to distribute its paper exclusively in the metro system, it still hasn’t managed to beat Métro in readership. Métro now has 10% more readers than 24 Heures though, and that margin is smaller than it used to be. And 24 Heures is now effectively tied with La Presse in terms of print readers on weekdays (it reports to be slightly ahead, while NADbank’s numbers report it slightly behind).
Several papers are showing double-digit drops in digital readership. Whether it’s paywalls or disinterest or something else, there’s a lot fewer people reading newspapers online. Overall, the market showed an 8% drop in weekly digital readership, while print gained 2%. Other major markets showed little change in digital readership. Here, the smaller papers took the biggest hit. 24 Heures’s digital readership is down 21%, the Globe and Mail’s is down 19%, and the National Post’s is down 18%.
As for The Gazette, the numbers put out by NADbank show modest drops across the board, though internally the paper is reporting increases, particularly in digital. Overall, it has 240,000 print readers on an average weekday and 499,000 people read it in either print or digital format every week (which I’m sure I can extrapolate into meaning that half a million people read every article I publish in that paper).
For the full numbers for each paper, you can read this chart from NADbank. The chart below shows the difference between those numbers and the previous year’s.
|Change||Yesterday print||Yesterday total||Weekday total||Saturday print||Sunday print||Weekly print||Weekly digital||Total weekly|
|Journal de Montréal||+6.40%||+18.13%||-1.40%||+17.20%||+4.43%||+0.52%||-8.86%||-1.73%|
|Globe and Mail||+11.58%||-9.71%||+7.63%||+37.56%||+5.87%||-18.53%||-16.40%|
2 years ago the journal de Montreal
was distributing over 360,000 copies
on a Saturday – Today it’s down to about 250,000.
We tried Lapresse again (about 2 years ago with dismal results).
Le Journal is still King Kong but the
‘beast’ is weakening.
NADbank’s numbers measure readership, not distribution. And they show the Journal being read by 600,000 people on Saturdays.
The gazette’s paywall is aggressive enough that I stopped using the site entirely. It doesn’t make any sense to me for the gazoo to profit from my ad views on the main page, and then fail to delivery the product when I click in. Anywhere betweeen 4 to 8 ads are displayed on the front page, and on that basis, I choose not to let my attention get sold with no return.
While I don’t use LaPresse+, I can understand why it’s the only digital property that is growing. It’s providing what I would consider a superior product, in what is essentially a niche market (french news in North America). They have a smaller overall potential audience, but they appear to be doing a good job of reaching it.
Quebecor has tried to pump JdeM digital edition by putting stories on the popular TVA nouvelle’s site that link directly to them But again, with no options but “pay, pay, pay”, these sorts of things not only don’t seem to play out for JdeM digital, but also tarnish TVA’s site as well.
I would say that both the Gazette and Globe and Mail has a bunch to worry about. Digital, print, whatever, they are in the end losing market share very rapidly.
If The Gazette, or any other newspaper for that matter, actually profited from ads then they wouldn’t need paywalls.
I suspect the point of this is to prevent TVA from posting a Journal story that lets people bypass the paywall. Now if you want to read a Journal story, you have to go to their website.
“If The Gazette, or any other newspaper for that matter, actually profited from ads then they wouldn’t need paywalls.”
If the Gazette and others paid attention, the would look at what La Presse is doing and realize that there is not only a profit but a potential future in all of this. It doesn’t start by alienating your readers and encouraging them to use other sources for the news.
Considering the Gazette main page has half a dozen ads on it, you would think that they could at least earn enough income to pay for it. My guess is that the website would be profitable if it was operated well and wasn’t a victim of the legacy costs of the print side.
“I suspect the point of this is to prevent TVA from posting a Journal story that lets people bypass the paywall. Now if you want to read a Journal story, you have to go to their website.”
it’s perfect proof of why media concentration fails to be a benefit for the public. Instead of writing their own story, they use their editorial space as advertising for JdeM. The public not only loses a second voice (because they are the same) but some of the valuable online space is lost by empty headlines with no story behind them.
Ironic that you use La Presse as an example here, since much of its content is not accessible on the web.
Newspaper websites aren’t profitable. Certainly not the ones without paywalls, which is why they all moved to paywalls. Advertising money is still primarily on the print side, because print charges much higher rates. Until that changes, those “legacy costs” will remain.
The difference is that LaPresse has done more than just toss the stories from the paper online and call it a day. They are producing a unique product that has a value beyond the print edition, beyond a simple website. That is the point. They have figured out a solution that isn’t A or B, but rather required some effort and some thinking to get there.
“Advertising money is still primarily on the print side, because print charges much higher rates. ”
That is something that is quickly changing. If the readership keeps dropping, the value of print advertising will drop. Unless the Gazoo and others figure out a better solution online, they will be pretty much dead ended, and yes… La Presse will be there working and others will not.