1. Business

Tampa Bay Times widens lead over Tampa Tribune in circulation

Published May 4, 2012

The Tampa Bay Times widened its lead over the Tampa Tribune as the dominant newspaper in the region based on an Audit Bureau of Circulations report released Tuesday.

The Times' average Sunday circulation rose about 1 percent to 432,202 while average daily circulation rose just more than 2 percent to 299,497 in the six-month period ended March 31.

In contrast, the Sunday circulation at the Tribune was virtually unchanged at 262,369, while daily circulation fell 20,000 copies, or 12 percent, to 144,510. The calculation of daily circulation is based on Monday through Friday results, as Saturday figures are broken out separately.

The bureau of circulations has overhauled how it calculates newspaper audience and circulation, making this the first opportunity in 18 months to make apples-to-apples comparisons with results from a year ago.

Overall, daily circulation for the 618 newspapers tracked by ABC rose 0.68 percent, while circulation for the 532 Sunday newspapers increased 5 percent.

Among the notable trends: Digital editions — online editions of a newspaper which subscribers pay for — now account for 14 percent of overall U.S. circulation, up from about 9 percent a year ago.

The Tampa Bay Times' daily circulation grew 2.4 percent because it includes copies of tbt*, the company's free daily newspaper that became a branded edition of the Tampa Bay Times when the paper changed its name from the St. Petersburg Times on Jan. 1, 2012. Excluding tbt*, daily circulation fell 5.8 percent, mostly because the newspaper discontinued certain programs, including some complimentary copies not purchased directly by consumers.

Joe DeLuca, Tampa publisher and vice president for the Times, said the paper had already been growing in Hillsborough County when it was called the St. Petersburg Times.

"But the rate of growth doubled after the change of the name," he said. "I attribute that to the region recognizing that the brand that we have represents who we are and who they are and that we have a match."

Since late December, Sunday circulation for the Tampa edition of the Times has grown from 122,000 to 134,000 while daily circulation has risen from 54,000 to 67,000.

Based on the new results, the Times ranks as the 18th largest paper in the United States in daily circulation and the 17th largest paper on Sunday. The paper remains the largest in the Southeast.