Major Hit: 'USA Today' Circ Plunges 17%

USA Today

The forthcoming newspaper report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations will show a steep drop in circulation for USA Today, according to Editor & Publisher, citing advance data from the ABC figures due to be released on Oct. 26.

Overall circulation fell 17%, from an average of about 2.27 million in the six-month period ending September 2008 to 1.88 million in the six-month period ending September 2009.

The loss was partly the result of a sharp drop in single-copy sales, which fell 100,000, and cutbacks in the paper's agreements for distribution to hotel guests. Home delivery figures remained stable.

The paper's president and publisher, David Hunke, also blamed an increase in the newsstand price, to $1. These drops continue a trend already in evidence earlier this year: Average circulation in the six-month period ending March 2009 was 2,113,725 -- down 7.5% from 2,284,219 in the six-month period ending March 2008.

With the latest decline, it appears likely that USA Today will lose its spot as the biggest newspaper in the United States to The Wall Street Journal, which in March 2009 had a circulation of 2,082,189 -- up 0.6% from 2,069,463 in March 2008.

Separately, a MediaPost analysis showed that the total average weekday circulation of 100 top metro dailies declined from 29,992,627 in the six-month period ending March 2002 to 24,596,032 in the six-month period ending March 2009 -- an overall decline of 18% over seven years. Of the 100 titles analyzed, 91 experienced circulation declines in the period under consideration.

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