UK’s Mail on Sunday fails to cash in on News of the World demise

This weekend’s Mail on Sunday trumpeted its status as the UK’s top selling Sunday newspaper with just over 2m sales but that must be a crushing disappointment to Associated Newspaper executives who saw MoS sales briefly hit 2.4m in the immediate aftermath of the closure of News international’s News of the World.

The NoW was selling nearly 2.6m copies before Rupert Murdoch shut it in the wake of the phone hacking scandal but so far the MoS, which has been hovering around 2m circulation for years, has put on just 150,000 or so extra sales.

Most have gone to Trinity Mirror’s Sunday Mirror (around 750,000, far better than most people expected), its rather undernourished stablemate the People (an even more surprising 350,000), 350,000 to Richard Desmond’s Daily Star on Sunday and 103,000 to Dessie’s Sunday Express. This leaves an enticing million or so copies still, presumably, up for grabs.

It’s pretty clear from this that red top Sunday readers prefer another sex, celebrity and sport-obsessed offering now that they’re deprived of their NoW. The MoS and its weakling rival the Sunday Express are more nuanced and overtly middle class, offering more politics, business and arts coverage (the MoS anyway), less sport and big dollops of sex and celebrity only when they can get away with it.

New of the World readers clearly had a quick look at columnists like William Rees-Mogg and Petronella Wyatt in the MoS (both quite good actually), scratched their heads and fled back to more staple fare.

Even so the reader pick-up by the MoS will be deeply disappointing to Associated power brokers who seem to have run out of ideas about what to do, apart from offer ‘new’ readers £5 Tesco vouchers.

The fall-out from the NoW is also remarkably good news for Ed Miliband and his Labour Party, still struggling to make an impact despite the dire performance of the UK economy under the coalition government.

The NoW (like its daily stablemate the Sun) was rabidly right wing even when it was officially supporting the Labour government (as it was up to 2010). The Daily Mail and MoS both remain so as does the Sunday Express (Dessie’s two Star titles don’t really do politics). The Times and Telegraph titles are also Tory boys.

For Miliband, and before him Gordon Brown, this meant that they were severely outgunned by Tory supporters with only the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People supporting them and a sympathetic hearing from the Liberal-leaning Guardian and Independent (both with tiny circulations).

Now though Miliband’s friends at Trinity Mirror are selling a million more copies on Sunday (the most important day of the week in the UK for political coverage) and he doesn’t have the NoW lobbing bricks at him.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.