Aided by Paywalls, Newspapers Halt Circulation Declines

Wall Street Journal Remains No. 1 Across Platforms

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Newspapers' weekday circulation edged up 0.7% in numbers released Tuesday, while Sunday circulation leapt 5%.

The figures, from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, show that digital paywall strategies have helped newspapers counter years of grinding declines in paid-print circulation.

Nuances in the reporting rules, however, mean that not every unit of additional circulation reflects a new reader. A newspaper can count paying readers twice if, for example, they read both the print edition and a gated digital version.

Digital gains were most clear at The New York Times, where weekday circulation over the six months ending in March averaged nearly 1.6 million. That's up 73% year-over-year, before the Times' online pay meter took effect.

Digital circulation averaged 807,026 at The Times. Its print circulation fell 4.5%, to 779,731.

The Wall Street Journal, which has charged for unfettered digital access for years, remains the largest newspaper across print and digital. It reported average circulation of 2.1 million for the six months ending in March, roughly unchanged from the year-earlier period.

USA Today is still the largest newspaper by print alone, averaging print circulation of 1.7 million. Overall circulation of 1.8 million was down 0.6% from a year earlier.

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