Global newspaper circulation is increasing, due entirely to strong growth in Asia, which more than offsets decreases in most other parts of the world last year, per the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.
However, the increase in overall circ volume is not translating into higher revenues -- which decreased globally, according to the same report.
Worldwide print newspaper circs rose 4.9% to 2.7 billion in 2015 thanks to a 7.8% jump in Asia, reflecting continuing growth in India, Southeast Asia and China. In fact, India and China together represent 62% of total daily print circ globally, up from 59% the year before.
Bit print circs fell elsewhere, with the biggest decreases seen in rich countries -- including drops of 4.7% in Europe, 2.4% in North America, 2.7% in Latin America, 2.6% in the Middle East and Africa, and 5.4% in Australia and Oceania.
Digital circ, measured separately, soared 30% last year — admittedly from a much smaller base.
Total newspaper revenues, including circ and advertising, fell 1.2% to $168 billion in 2015. Altogether, print and digital circ revenues came to $90 billion last year, while ads accounted for $78 billion – the latter figure down 7.5% from the year before. The drop in ad revenues resulted from decreases of 7.2% in North America and 9.7% in Asia. These offset a 6.2% increase in newspaper ad revenue in Europe, while Latin America edged up 0.3%.
Although paid digital circ remains relatively small, with revenues of just $3 billion in 2015, digital readership (most of it unpaid) is enormous, with over 80% of Americans reading digital newspaper content and more than 70% of British, Australians and Canadians doing the same. That includes consumption on desktops, tablets and smartphones.
Globally, around 40% of Internet users are reading newspapers online.
WAN pointed to a number of big publishers enjoying strong growth in digital readership, with The Washington Post’s digital audience up 78% in 2015, while Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, was up 58%.