New figures show UK newspapers thriving online – so why do they keep losing money on print?

Unknown-4British newspapers are continuing to grow their online audiences according to new ABC Multi-Platform figures for March, with the Guardian breaking through 100m ‘unique browsers’ for the first time (up 5.1 per cent),  Metro down 12.4 per cent (which may explain the recent purge of executives at the free title) and the Independent up a startling 16 per cent to nearly 37m browsers in the month. Mail Online was up eight per cent to nearly 180m.

All of which raises the question: why do the likes of the Guardian and the Independent continue with full-on print editions (which lose money) when the future is so clearly online?  One answer is habit; another may be that the owners still see the print newspaper as an effective embodiment of the brand.

Turning this online torrent into money is another matter entirely of course. A recent study from the Internet Advertising Bureau claimed that people seeing an ad for a second or less counted as an impression – but it doesn’t leave much time to be impressed. Viewers of Mail Online may be expected to scroll down the long list of celebrity doings without paying too much attention to the ads. And, in the case of the Mail and the Guardian anyway, a huge proportion of the online readership comes from the US, which isn’t that helpful to most British advertisers.

Still, we can probably expect some changes to the print/online balance soon. You do wonder why the Indy owners the Lebedevs bother with a print edition selling far fewer than 100,000 copies. They also have the cut-price i which is doing pretty well. Why not make that their print flagship?

ABC Multi-platform report: March 2014

Mar-14 Monthly % change
Daily ave Total mthly Daily ave Total mthly
MailOnline 11,266,272 179,822,518 0.22 8.40
Metro 1,155,504 26,629,314 -12.44 -3.25 5,670,062 102,286,881 5.13 12.27
The Independent 1,652,478 36,957,760 15.83 24.04
Mirror Group Nationals 2,516,514 51,122,666 2.52 8.44
Telegraph 3,551,333 72,203,591 12.58 20.94

Source: ABC, Monthly Multi-platform report





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