One in seven US newspapers now digital: survey

Nearly one of seven newspapers read in the United States is now a digital one, an industry group said Tuesday.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) said that in the six months to March 31, some 14.2 percent of newspapers were read as digital editions, including smartphone and tablet computer versions.

That marked a huge leap from a year ago when 8.66 percent were digital editions.

The figures offer the first year-over-year comparison of newspaper circulation using a new system that aims to more accurately measure digital readership.

Under this system, the New York Times showed a 73 percent surge in circulation to 1.58 million, with digital readership of 807,026 overtaking print circulation of 779,731.

The Times, in a bid to boost online revenue, recently began charging readers for full access to the newspaper's website. The Wall Street Journal already charges for online access to WSJ.com.

The Wall Street Journal remained the top daily newspaper in the United States with average print and digital circulation of 2.11 million. More than 500,000 of those editions were digital.

USA Today was the second largest daily with circulation of 1.8 million, including 115,000 online readers. Next was the New York Times, followed by the Los Angeles Times with 616,575 including 100,221 digital editions, the New York Daily News with 579,636 total circulation and 156,470 online.

Fueled largely by increases in digital circulation and branded editions, daily circulation for the 618 newspapers reporting to ABC rose 0.68 percent.

Circulation for the 532 newspapers reporting comparable Sunday data increased five percent.

Caroline Little, president and chief executive of the Newspaper Association of America, said the new circulation system, "which for the first time incorporate a metric for 'total circulation,' are certainly a welcome change."

"Although they don't yet capture all of the various digital platforms that newspaper companies are using to expand their audience reach, they are a step in the right direction," she added.

"In particular, they provide advertisers with more transparent and useful information about the various components that showcase the increase in readership of newspaper content, and the strong market reach for buyers of newspaper advertising."

The New York Times remained the top Sunday newspaper with total average circulation of just over two million, including more than 737,000 digital.

US newspapers have been grappling with a steep drop in print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online. But more newspapers are developing models for paid online subscriptions or apps for tablets or phones.

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