Sydney Morning Herald maintains largest audience with digital upswing

The trend towards digital continues, with the majority of ‘s top-read newspaper titles offsetting moderate declines in print readership with a surge in online interest.

The most-read newspaper in the country in the 12 months to October 2017 continued to be Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald, the latest Enhanced Media Metrics (EMMA) survey results show.

Over the year, 5.42 million people picked up a copy of the paper or read the title digitally on any device.

While print readership was down by 60,000 year-on-year, the overall audience for the title fell by 15,000 on the EMMA measure.

Much of the print drop was offset by a 150,000 recorded growth in readership on digital platforms.

The second most-read title was News Corp’s Daily Telegraph with overall readership of 4,575,000, up from 4,281,000 in 2016.

It experienced a significant increase in its digital readership at 2,567,000, compared to 2.03 million a year prior.

But the title also slumped in its monthly print circulation at 2,667,000 compared to 2,776,000 in 2016.

Rounding out the top five were News Corp’s Herald Sun with 4,276,000 and The n, 3,265,000, followed by Fairfax’s The Age, with 3,049,000.

While most of the top five titles saw a decline in print readership and an increase in digital, not all aligned with this trend.

The n increased both print and digital readership, while The Age’s readership decreased across both measures.

Of the 15 titles that were measured in both October 2016 and 2017, seven recorded overall increases in readership.

Eleven recorded increases in digital readership, while 12 recorded declines in print readership.

NewsMediaWorks chief executive Peter Miller said the solid figures across the group of newspapers, coupled with the strong takeup of digital, was a positive sign for the industry.

“There is an evolution across multiple platforms … newspapers are becoming multi-platform businesses,” Mr Miller said.

By 2018 he expects these changes to continue.

“Some publications will moderate their negative growth in print readership and some will drop further,” he said.

He expected there would be a continued increase in digital readership leading most newspapers with “commercially viable” audience outcomes.

He said the digital growth was lending itself to an audience that switched between titles, including some who likely read one newspaper in print but opted for another digitally due to better apps or online presentation.

News Corp spokeswoman Liz Deegan said the growth in total cross platform audience was evidence of the strong community connection with its brands.

“We are providing a range of channels and mediums for people to consume our content in whichever way they like,” she said.

Fairfax Media was approached for comment.