The Australian finally reveals digital subscription figures

By By David Blight | 9 November 2012
News Limited chief executive Kim Williams.

News Limited has revealed digital subscriber figures for The Australian and claimed 16% growth in the past six months, keeping Kim Williams' promise to release digital data by September's circ results.

The September quarter marked the first time digital figures for The Australian were released in the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) Masthead figures. Previously, the only major newspapers to submit digital figures were Fairfax titles The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Audit Bureau of Circulations Masthead figures for September 2012 quarter.

The market has been clamouring for some months to see digital figures for News Limited newspapers. Williams had promised in August that his company would release digital numbers.

The ABC's Masthead figures measure a combination of print, digital and package figures, and launched in the March quarter. The September figures mark the third time Masthead figures have been released.

The Australian's figures have indicated that the title has 31,241 paying digital subscribers, made up of 27,296 digital only subscribers and 3,445 package subscribers combining both digital and print. News Limited has claimed the figure represents about a 16% increase over the past six months, since News Limited released unaudited figures in March.

The Australian's total Masthead figure, combining print, digital and package, was 154,697; while The Weekend Australian's was 299,106.

In contrast, Fairfax title The Sydney Morning Herald saw a Masthead figure of 187,260 for its weekday edition, while The Age's Monday to Friday edition saw a Masthead figure of 173,405.

For the period ending September 2012, The Age had 31,502 digital subscribers and The Sydney Morning Herald had 56,559.

News Limited chief executive Kim Williams said: “Today’s ABC data marks an important new phase for the Australian newspaper industry with the release of a fully audited digital subscriber number under the Audit Bureau’s reporting rules.

The Australian’s total of 31,241 subscribers demonstrates that there is a real and growing market for quality journalism available digitally. This figure represents 16 per cent growth over the last six months.

“Subscriptions to The Australian continue to grow. We also continue to attract strong audiences to our digital network - with a total unique audience of 7.7 million people per month.

“The growth in digital subscriptions and strong audiences for our digital sites is encouraging as we continue to transform our business in serving consumers and advertisers across a rich range of technologies – print, online, mobile, tablet and broadcast.”

Fairfax has consistently criticised News Limited for not releasing digital numbers earlier.

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