NADbank numbers shake up newspaper scene

The Newspaper Audience Databank study (NADbank 2006) was released this morning, and dailies were quick to put their spins on the data. Here are the numbers, replete with commentary from PHD Canada president Fred Forster, Globe and Mail publisher and CEO Phillip Crawley, and Starcom Mediavest Group's research manager Greg Ramsey.

With files from Terry Poulton and Patti Summerfield

The NADbank 2006 study released today shows overall newspaper readership levels haven’t really changed much since the previous year. The data show there are 11.8 million weekly readers in the top 17 markets (no change since 2005), and 10.4 million in the top 10 markets (up from 10.3 million in 2005). Readership in the 1-million-plus markets of Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver also stayed the same at 8.7 million.

PHD president Fred Forster tells MiC what the study really brings is news of stability. ‘The thing that strikes me off the top is that the newspaper situation is more stable than what one is lead to believe,’ says Forster. ‘If you look at it across the board, newspapers aren’t going away. There’s still strong readership. Every time a NADbank comes out, everybody’s expecting some doom and gloom and it never turns out that way – although there are pockets of erosion in some places that you might expect. One of the things that was surprising for me was the decline of Metro in the Toronto area and the strength of 24 Hours, which has also done very well in Montreal.’

In the hotly contested Toronto market, the major dailies were quick to put their own spins on the data (a breakdown of NADbank’s 2006 study completes this report). The National Post and the Toronto Star immediate sent out releases about their hold on the marketplace.

Despite the Globe‘s national dominance, the Post says it dominated Toronto readership growth in 2006, with a 30% increase in Saturday readership and a 3.5% increase Monday to Friday. The Post also pointed out declines in the Globe‘s weekday and Saturday readership in the GTA, saying it ‘continues to suffer erosion in key demographic areas, including the sought-after high income earning households and the 25-49 year old age demographic.’ In the six major markets including the GTA, the Post says it has shown a 7% increase in Saturday readership, in comparison to the Globe‘s slip of almost 5%. The Post also boasts major gains in Saturday readership, with 52% and 47% increases respectively in the $75,000+ and $100,000+ personal income groups and 42% and 40% growth respectively in the $75,000+ and $100,000+ household income groups. The paper also boasted Monday-Friday gains in the personal income category of 48% in the coveted $100,000+ group and 43% in the $75,000+ group. The paper also trumpeted growth in the 35-49 demographic with a 104% increase on Saturdays and a 54% increase Monday-Friday. National Post VP of advertising Mark Spencer says the paper’s ‘positive momentum is a result of a long-term strategy to focus on increasing our readership in the highly desirable demographics that advertisers seek.’

Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of the Globe and Mail, tells MiC the NADbank results need to be looked at in the context of what the PMB report says next week, as well as the latest ABC figures and the paper’s own research. The reason, he says, is because the Globe‘s high-end, affluent audience is resistant to phone surveys and therefore under-represented by NADbank. ‘The simple story is that figures show the Globe and Mail is by far the dominant national newspaper,’ says Crawley. ‘The Post has retreated from its national mission and is focusing on a few big cities. The Globe is really the only truly national paper these days. The Post is focusing its efforts on Toronto, particularly where a lot of the bulk distribution is made. The Globe, by contrast, has reduced its bulk distribution consistently. We’ve cut bulk and unpaid copies year over year. We cut it by 22% on weekdays and 24% on Saturdays. We’ve focused on increasing our fully-paid sales – the sale at more than 50% of cover price. That has gone up on both weekdays and Saturdays. Ultimately what we’re delivering is quality readership, and that doesn’t come from increasing your bulk time and time again.’

The Star confirmed its hold on the title of ‘Canada’s most read newspaper’ – with 2.7 million readers in the course of a week – and targeted it’s local rival the Toronto Sun. The Star says the numbers show it has actually strengthened its position in the marketplace, with Monday-Friday cumulative reach at 1,738,800 readers, up from 1,705,300 readers for the same period one year ago. It’s a significant lead over the Sun, which reached just over one million readers during the same period. The Star also boasted three times the reach on Saturday as the Globe, which has 395,900 readers. The Saturday Star alone, says the paper, reaches more readers than any of the other newspapers reach over a seven-day period. Net weekly reach of the Toronto Star‘s website,, has increased by 7.5% year over year to 517,700, making it the number one newspaper website destination in the Toronto market.

Greg Ramsey, research manager with Toronto-based Starcom Mediavest Group says, ‘It was good to see the actual newspapers managing to hold steady. There’s a bit of fluctuation here and there, but by and large it was pretty steady across all markets. The investment the National Post made into their Saturday paper has really paid off in Toronto, and they really strengthened in their core targets in that we saw a jump in high-income, educated professionals. So their target sampling, and a lot of really aggressive sales, are obviously paying off. In Montreal, the commuter dailies took a good jump – 24 Hours went up by 17% and Metro took a 7% jump. That was a strong increase and you saw it bite into the readership of most of the other papers. With the exception of Le Journal de Montreal, all of them were down a bit on week days. And time spent reading was very constant, which is good when you consider that people are also spending more time online.’

Here are some highlights from NADbank’s 2006 study:

National Dailies: The Globe and Mail continues to dominate over the National Post. The Globe measures a total of 2.3 million adult readers in an average week across all markets (up from 2 million), while the Post gets 1.4 million. The Globe‘s average weekday read-yesterday readership across all markets saw further decline to 869,700, down from 928,400 in 2005 (and 937,200 in 2004). The Post‘s average weekday read-yesterday readership in 2006 was 520,900, down from 587,400 in 2005 (and 585,300 in 2004). The Globe‘s read Saturday numbers measured 1,213,000, up from 1,059,300, while the Post‘s were 533,600, down from 540,100. Both national newspapers saw decline in the total weekly six-day cumes – with the Globe slipping from 2,440,300 to 2,344,900 and the Post down from 1,507,800 to 1,446,700.

Toronto Dailies: The Toronto Star remains on top with 23% of readers (read yesterday) and 48% 6/7 day cume. The Toronto Sun is second with 12% (read yesterday) and 28% (6/7 day cume), followed by the Globe at 9% and 20% and the Post at 5% and 12%. In free dailies, Metro leads with 9% of readers (read-yesterday) and 19% five-day cume; 24 hours comes second with 8% of readers (read-yesterday) and 17% five-day cume.

Montreal Dailies: The CMA results have Le Journal de Montreal in the lead with 23% of readers (read yesterday) and 41% 6/7 day cume. La Presse is second with 15% (read yesterday) and 29% (6/7 day cume), followed by the Gazette with 10% and 19%, the Globe at 1% and 4% and the Post at 1% and 3%. In free dailies, Metro leads with 11% of readers (read-yesterday) and 20% five-day cume; 24 heures comes second with 7% of readers (read-yesterday) and 13% five-day cume.

Ottawa-Gatineau Dailies: The NADbank 2006 study says the Ottawa Citizen leads with 29% of readers (read yesterday) and 51% 6/7 day cume. Ottawa Sun is second with 14% (read yesterday) and 26% (6/7 day cume), followed by the Globe at 6% and 15% and the Post at 3% and 8%. Ottawa’s French-language daily, Le Droit, has 10% of readers (read-yesterday) and 18% 6/7-day cume. Free daily Metro has 6% of readers (read-yesterday) and 13% five-day cume.

Vancouver Dailies: The Province leads with 27% of readers (read yesterday) and 48% 6/7 day cume while the Sun is tied with 27% (read yesterday) and a close second with 47% (6/7 day cume). The Globe follows with 5% and 16% and the Post at 3% and 11%. 24 hours leads with 12% of readers (read-yesterday) and 25% five-day cume. Metro comes second with 6% of readers (read-yesterday) and 15% five-day cume.

Across all markets, 51% of adults over 18 read a newspaper yesterday (no change from the 2005 study). Last weekend readership measured 53%, down from 55% in the 2005 study. By Friday, 72% of adults read at least one issue of a daily newspaper (same as 2005) and 77% have read one in the last week (down from 78% in 2005 and 79% in 2004).

Online readership of the newspapers surveyed by NADbank measured 16% among adults over 18 (up from 15% in the 2005 study). The number of minutes spent reading newspapers on weekdays stayed the same, at 47 minutes, as did the number of minutes spent reading on the weekend, at 88 minutes.

Click here for NADbank’s press releases.