After Wednesday’s not so good news about continuing declining sales of our local regional daily papers, here’s the better news about their growing online audiences.
Just about all of them posted steady year on year increases in online readership in the second half of 2014, according to data published by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
Before the BUT … (there’s always a BUT) …
… a couple of headlines from the table below:
* the Huddersfield Daily Examiner very nearly doubled its online readership over the year, and now gets 9,500 more “unique browsers” a day to its website than The Yorkshire Post (why? see below)
* The Hull Daily Mail is still the most read local daily in the region, both online and on paper
For a bit of context, here are those local stats placed in the national picture, a table showing which regional dailies are getting the most traffic. They’re BIG numbers at the top.
(our local Yorkshire ones are in red – I’ve included the Halifax Courier because even though it’s only published weekly in print people can read it online any time they like)
Now I know that no-one has come up with a way yet of turning online audience into cash, but if and when they do, you’d imagine that the bigger the audience, the greater the revenue is going to be.
So, the prospect of our two Leeds-based papers – The Yorkshire Post and the Evening Post – turning their average combined daily audience of 94,000 unique browsers into a sustainable business is, you’d presume, more remote than that of the Manchester Evening News, with its 414,810 unique browsers a day.
(I know it’s not going to happen … but if each of those 414,810 made a micro-payment of a penny a day, the Manchester paper would earn £125,000 a month. Makes you think)
The disparity in audience growth obviously isn’t down to the quality of the journalists on each paper but, I’m guessing, to such things as the fan base of a city’s football team(s).
It looks like it’s also down to the way the papers’ parent companies have been rolling out their “digital first” strategies.
Which brings us back to the dramatic rise of the Huddersfield Examiner, which happens to be the only paper in our patch that’s owned and run by Trinity Mirror.
As you’ll see from the table below, Trinity Mirror is rushing ahead of rival Johnston Press (the owners of the YP and the YEP) in developing its online audience: the top seven titles in terms of growth are ALL Trinity Mirror.
What Trinity Mirror says – via its digital publishing director for regional brands, David Higgerson – is:
“The increasing use of digital analytics to inform and determine content decisions is helping us deliver more of the content people want, when they want it, especially among local users.”
That sounds like it might lead to a constant diet of “Get Me a Murder a Day“, pets in pyjamas, and endless football gossip, but it doesn’t.
Whatever “digital analytics” they’re using, it’s not stopping them running the “serious stuff” (yes, I know football is serious) in depth. Here’s a random page from earlier in the week: pretty much everything you wanted to know about the devolved Manchester NHS Service, all smartly presented from one page.
Why haven’t Johnston Press set up our Leeds-based papers yet to do the same? And are there enough journalists left on the titles to deliver that kind of coverage?
Here’s the table showing which regional papers’ online audience grew most in the second half of 2014 – Trinity Mirror in blue, Johnston Press in green.