Star’s circulation grows, according to audit bureau report

After years of steady decline, the Kansas City Star’s circulation appears to be growing, according to a recent report from the Audit Bureau of Circulation. It’s important to note, however, that new ABC reporting rules mean newspapers can include digital subscriptions, such as e-editions or tablet subscriptions, as part of their circulation figures.

Many tips of the hat to Jim Fitzpatrick, who writes,

The figures, released (May 1), show that instead of dropping below the key 300,000 threshold, which seemed likely six months ago, The Kansas City Star’s Sunday circulation rose to nearly 310, 500.

In addition, Monday-to-Friday average circulation got its head back above 200,000 after falling below that benchmark in ABC’s September 2011 report.

That news on both fronts — Sunday and daily — must have Star publisher Mi-Ai Parrish and the other business-side executives breathing easier because those big, round benchmark figures are extremely important to advertisers. If The Star can stay above 200,000 daily and 300,000 Sunday and continue a gradual rise, it should be able to hold the line on print advertising prices, while waiting for digital-side circulation and advertising prices to move up.

But print is still declining, as Jim writes: “On the daily front, print-edition sales of The Star dropped by about 3,400 from the September 2011 report, but digital subscriptions rose by 4,300, pushing total weekday average circulation to 200,365.

Saturday circulation stayed about the same — about 205,000 — from September to March.”

According to ABC, “Fueled largely by increases in digital circulation and branded editions, daily circulation for the 618 newspapers reporting comparable multiday averages rose .68 percent. Circulation for the 532 newspapers reporting comparable Sunday data increased 5 percent.

On average, digital circulation now accounts for 14.2 percent of newspapers’ total circulation mix, up from 8.66 percent in March 2011. Digital circulation may be tablet or smartphone apps, PDF replicas, metered or restricted-access websites, or e-reader editions. Branded editions, newspaper-owned products such as commuter, community, alternative-language or Sunday-Select type newspapers, make up 4.5 percent of newspapers’ total average circulation, up from 3.36 percent in March 2011.”

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