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Fires, COVID and US election increased audience for news to 91%

Nine Entertainment Co’s The Sydney Morning Herald has topped the total cross-platform audiences for newspaper mastheads in the 12 months to December 2020.

The latest results from Roy Morgan show that an estimated 19.2 million (91%) Australians aged 14+ read or accessed newspapers or newspaper content in some way – print editions, online via website, app or news platforms including (metropolitan, local and regional titles) in an average four weeks. This represents an increase of three percentage points from the six months to June when the total cross-platform audience for newspapers was 18.5 million (88% Australians).

The Sydney Morning Herald had a cross-platform audience of over 8.5 million ahead of its Melbourne stablemate The Age with a cross-platform audience of 6 million Australians in an average 4 week period in the 12 months to December 2020.

News Corp’s The Daily Telegraph came in third place with a cross-platform audience of just over 4.9 million in front of national sister publication The Australian on 4.8 million, while Melbourne counterpart Herald Sun was just over 4.5 million Australians.

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National broadsheet The Australian grew its cross-platform audiences by over 500,000 in the December from the September quarter. There was extensive coverage in The Australian of the contentious US Presidential Election in the closing months of 2020 as former President Donald Trump disputed the results throughout November and December.

The ‘digital first’ Enhanced Cross-Platform Audience results are drawn from Roy Morgan Single Source comprising multi-mode interviews with a representative sample of 61,294 Australians aged 14+ and machine based data collected in the 12 months to December 2020.

In terms of print only circulation News Corp secured the three top results. The Australian came in top with just over 2.7 million, Herald Sun had 2.5 million while The Daily Telegraph was close behind on 2.3 million

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine, said the data provided evidence that Australians had increased their access to newspapers and magazines via new media channels during the pandemic.

“Trusted sources of news received a huge boost during 2020 as Australians turned to familiar and reliable news outlets to keep up-to-date with the latest news on devastating bushfires last summer, the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19 and over the last few months a disputed and contentious US Presidential Election.

“The importance Australians placed on trusted news sources to keep up-to-date with the latest rules and restrictions being implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19 provided Australia’s leading newspaper mastheads with a tremendous boost during 2020. There have been big gains in cross-platform audiences for several leading newspaper mastheads as a result.”

The cross-platform audience data results for the 12 months to December 2020 for magazine publishers show that Are Media-owned ‘Now to Love’ website attracts an audience of 2.3 million Australians in an average 4 week period. Are Media’s ‘Now to Love’ website is a combination of content from several of its titles including The Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, TV Week and Take 5.

The consolidation is adding incremental reach to already strong print-based publications including Woman’s Day, estimated to reach over 1.4 million readers in an average four week period, and stablemate The Australian Women’s Weekly with an estimated four week print reach approaching 1.1 million readers.

There are several other magazines with large cross-platform audiences including News Corp’s Taste.com.au Magazine with a total audience of over 3.1 million, Are Media’s New Idea with almost 2.5 million and its Better Home & Gardens with well over 1.9 million readers in an average 4 weeks in the 12 months to December 2020.

‘Cross-Platform Audience’ is the number of Australians who have read or accessed individual newspaper content via print, web, app or Apple News (and includes Monday – Friday and the weekend editions on Saturday and Sunday). In line with traditional digital measures all results are  four week estimates rather than print currency ‘average issue readership’ (AIR).

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