Overall, readership of South African newspapers declined in the past year. Of the total of 53 newspapers for which readership numbers were analysed, 22 (41,5%) expanded their readership, 28 (52,8%) suffered declines and one held steady.
In contrast, of Media 24’s 19 newspapers, as many as 14 (73,7%) registered readership gains, while only 5 (26,3%) lost ground.
Of the top five gainers, the first four – Son (27%), Volksblad (26%), Sake 24 (23%) and Weekend Witness (19%) – are Media 24 publications. Cape Times (18%) was fifth.
The biggest losers were Pretoria News (Saturday) (25% down), Saturday Star (24%), The Citizen (Saturday) (20%), Umafrika (Friday) (20%) and The Star (17%).
Among the big readership (more than a million) newspapers, Business Report National gained 11,9%, followed by Daily Sun (6,4%), Rapport (4,4%) and Soccer Laduma (0,4%). Readership losses were suffered by Sunday World (8,8%), Sunday Times (3,4%), Sunday Sun (3,2%), Sowetan (2%) and City Press (0,9%).
In Gauteng, the heart of South Africa’s economy, the Sowetan still leads the daily field, being almost three times the size of Beeld and The Star. Beeld picked up 14% and The Star lost 17%, resulting in Beeld boasting more readers than The Star for the first time.
Dustine Tobler, Marketing Services Manager of Ads24, a Media24 group company, draws several conclusions from the statistics:
• The extraordinary readership gains chalked up by Media24 publications reflects the group’s heavy emphasis on analysing the nature of its various markets and tailoring its media content accordingly as a result of elevated understanding of those markets;
• Media24’s research indicating that its readers are more than happy with its products are vindicated by the AMPS results;
• AMPS demonstrates that Media 24’s products are correctly niched;
• Media24’s focus on efficiency of circulation – a focus designed to ensure that its products are available in the right quantity at the right time;
• An overall gain in Afrikaans readership; and
• A severe decline in the popularity of Saturday products.
“Interestingly,” Tobler observes, “Media24’s readership advances were achieved in a period during which it was involved in introducing a new distribution system. It was a period when we had to contend with migrating from the old system to the new, the training of new staff and teething problems with the new system.
“All these factors affected sales adversely, impacting our ability to get papers out in time and slowing down production and output. In spite of these hurdles, our overall readership rose steeply, especially in relative terms.”
Tobler is confident that the next AMPS survey will yield equally positive results for Media24.
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