Monday, October 26, 2009

Chronicle circulation plunges 25%

The Chronicle's circulation fell by 25.8% in the past year. Of the nation's 25 largest newspapers, the Chron reported the largest percentage decrease. The Chron's daily circulation now stands at 251,782, down from 339,430 a year ago.

Sales of the Chron's Sunday edition fell by 22.9%, to 306,705.

In one year, the Chron lost 87,648 daily customers and 91,411 Sunday customers.

The figures are from the Audit Bureau of Circulation's FAS-FAX reports, which were released today.

In San Jose, the Merc's daily circulation fell by 10% to 200,258 and its Sunday circulation dropped 5.6% to 225,9878.

However, on Aug. 9, the Merc decided to add the circulation of the San Mateo County Times to its numbers. The Times went from being a separate newspaper to an edition of the Merc. That will allow the Merc to claim a daily circulation of 225,175 and 248,386 on Sundays.

In Santa Rosa, the New York Times-owned Press Democrat reported a 10.5% drop on weekdays (to 64,237) and 9.1% on Sundays (to 68,489).

The Contra Costa Times' daily circulation fell 3.3% to 174,852. On Sunday, the CCT was down 2.9% to 184,118.

In Marin County, the IJ's Sunday circulation is down 8.3 percent to 28,815. The IJ's Monday-Saturday average circulation is 26,548, which is down 10.7% from that paper's Monday-Friday average in the previous year of 29,742.

The Oakland Tribune is a bright spot. It's Sunday circulation jumped 5.6% to 91,691, an increase of 4,933 more papers sold. The Trib's daily number increased by 294 copies to 92,794, a 3/10ths of 1% increase.

The Vallejo Times-Herald reported a 13.9% drop in its daily circulation (falling to 13,580) and 17.7% on Sundays (to 13,777).

The Vacaville Reporter's daily circulation fell 3.7% (to 17,22) and its Sunday circulation declined by 5.6% (to 17,569).

UPDATE (5 P.M., OCT. 26): Bringing in more money from readers is now more important than trying to preserve circulation, Chron President Mark Adkins told the AP. He said that while the Chronicle has fewer subscribers, they are collectively paying more for the paper than a year ago.

The Chronicle now charges $7.75 per week for home delivery, up from $4.75 in the previous year. Weekday copies sell for $1 on the newsstand, up from 75 cents.

"The new circulation revenue has become an important part of our business model," Adkins told AP. "We are pretty pleased."


Anonymous said...

This is truly alarming and sad for The Chron. The staff that is left is trying to the best they can and the paper still drives a lot of the Bay Area news agenda most days. Word is the paper finally turned a miniscule profit within the last two months. But circulation losses like these are simply unsustainable. Where is the leadership?

Anonymous said...

Has anybody investigated whether one paper can just claim another paper's circulation, like the Merc has done? I realize both are owned by the same company, but there is very little in common with San Mateo and San Jose. This doesn't seem right.

Anonymous said...

Several things have happened at the Chronicle that explain the drop. They've raised both the newsstand and home delivery prices, and they've stopped circulating papers to areas beyond the main Bay Area counties. I doubt many Chron advertisers were interested in reaching people in Sacramento or Eureka.

Anonymous said...

to Anonymous #2: Newspapers merge all the time. Look back at the history of this business. That's why so many papers have two names in their title, e.g. "Mercury News." The Mercury and the San Jose News were separate newspapers at one time, but later merged. The same is true with the San Mateo Times and San Jose Mercury News, but the arrangement allows the Times to keep its name. It is permitted under the Audit Bureau of Circulations rules, and newspapers have been merging for more than a century.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, um, you can get the paper for free online, or pay for it in hard copy form. What would do?

Anonymous said...

Having your readers pay more for less? How's that working?

John U said...

I used to be an avid reader of the Chronicle but only because I love to read the paper in the morning and it is better than the Examiner. In the last six months diminishing quality and higher prices finally turned me away.

$1.00 for pretty scant local reporting and weak national coverage? Why bother? (But we have new ink!) I won't do it on principle. I can usually snag a used copy at my coffee shop... And $7.75 for home delivery? That is just a smidge over the newsstand price. Thanks for the privilege, guys.

$2.00 is worth it for the New York Times, but too expensive for a 20 minute read on the way to work. Grrrrrrr... mad.

Anonymous said...

My Chron subscription went up from $299 last year to $403. No wonder they're losing subscribers!!