READERSHIP ON A ROLL, DOWNHILL

By: Joe Nicholson

Daily Print Readers Down Slightly





Readership has dipped again, according to a Newspaper Association of
America (NAA) analysis of the top 50 markets. Released this week, the
NAA analysis, based on Scarborough Research market data, showed average
daily newspaper readership decreased to 56.2% this spring from 56.9%
last fall.



This marked the fifth consecutive newspaper dip in the NAA analysis,
known as the Competitive Media Index. The analysis also showed that the
average reach of a half-hour of prime-time TV dropped from 38.5% last
fall to 37.8% currently, and the reach of an average quarter-hour of
weekday morning drive-time radio decreased from 24.5% to 23.4%. The
only increase was in the reach of an average half-hour of prime-time
cable, which advanced from 11.3% to 12%.



The NAA noted that more than half of all adults in the top markets
‘continue to read a daily newspaper every day, and two-thirds read one
each Sunday.’



NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm said, ‘Newspapers are working
diligently to rebuild frequency with their marginal readers.’
Improvements have been made with earlier delivery, creation of
retention departments, and increased availability of credit-card
payments for subscribers, said Sturm.



Referring to circulation and readership declines, Larry Sackett,
president and CEO of the Barry Group, a newspaper marketing firm, said
at least half of the causes are beyond newspapers’ control, including
increased competition from the Web and other media.



Newspapers’ widespread reliance over the last 20 years on telemarketing
with computers using rapid automated ‘sequential power dialing’ has
been ‘very counterproductive,’ said Sackett, because it has resulted in
calls to people ‘who will say anything to get [telemarketers] off the
phone, but who won’t pay or who churn. The trick is to begin to
diversify sales sources,’ He called for more use of the Web and more
emphasis on developing voluntary starts.



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Joe Nicholson (jnicholson@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate
editor for Editor & Publisher magazine.













(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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