Print circulation at the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald continues to slide, according to the latest data from the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations).
But the Globe’s success in selling digital subscriptions has led to a healthy 8.9 percent increase in its Monday-through-Friday paid circulation and a 4.6 percent increase on Sundays. The Herald’s paid circulation, by contrast, is down 11.6 percent on weekdays and 10.8 percent on Sundays.
The numbers are based on a comparison between the six-month periods ending on March 30, 2013, and March 30, 2012. Here are the topline figures:
- Boston Globe: Weekdays, 245,572, up from 225,482. Sundays, 382,452, up from 365,512.
- Boston Herald: Weekdays, 95,929, down from 108,548. Sundays, 73,043, down from 81,925.
The underlying totals tell an interesting story. The Globe’s weekday print circulation dropped from 195,947 to 172,048 (down 12.2 percent), and its Sunday print edition fell from 343,194 to 309,771 (down 9.7 percent). But the number of readers who use the Globe’s paid website, BostonGlobe.com, rose from 19,313 to 60,134 on weekdays and from 19,599 to 60,301 on Sundays.
(Note: Despite the seeming precision of these figures, there may be some minor discrepancies. The 2012 totals in the just-released “Newspaper Snapshot” do not perfectly match the audit reports posted elsewhere on the AAM site.)
As I’ve explained before, the actual number of digital subscribers is about half that reported by the AAM, since its totals include print subscribers who also make regular use of BostonGlobe.com, which home-delivery customers can access for free.
The Globe totals also include readers who access the ePaper — that is, the digital replica edition, which looks exactly like the print edition. A year ago, the ePaper was just barely getting off the ground. Now it accounts for 13,390 paid weekday subscriptions and another 12,380 on Sundays.
The challenge for the Herald is that, as readers lose the print habit, the paper is not offering a compelling paid digital alternative. The Herald has free smartphone and tablet apps, and, like the Globe, it posts a paid replica edition (the Electronic Edition), which is how we do most of our Herald-reading at Media Nation.
But replica editions just aren’t that compelling. Currently the Herald’s e-edition attracts 9,810 paying customers on weekdays and 1,216 on Sundays.
BostonHerald.com remains free. In the past, publisher Pat Purcell has dropped hints that that could change. Certainly it would surprise no one if that change came sooner rather than later.
Boosting digital subscriptions. The Globe’s free website, Boston.com, began running brief summaries of Globe stories today in an attempt to boost digital subscriptions.
The move had been expected for some time, as editor Brian McGrory talked about it in an interview with Andrew Beaujon of Poynter.org in February. But the timing could prove to be interesting, since it follows the Globe’s widely praised coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.
The paper lowered the paywall during the worst of it, which, as Seth Fiegerman reported for Mashable, resulted in an enormous increase in Web traffic. It bears watching to see how many of those readers can now be converted into paying customers.