U.S. newspaper circulation is flat, online share up

Published Oct. 31, 2012

Newspaper circulation across the country fell 0.2 percent daily but rose 0.6 percent on Sundays for the six months ending Sept. 30.

Online news continued to account for a bigger chunk of newspaper circulation, according to the semiannual readership snapshot of 600 newspapers released Tuesday. On average, digital circulation accounted for more than 15 percent of newspapers' total circulation, up from just under 10 percent a year ago.

At the Tampa Bay Times, daily circulation jumped 30 percent to 313,003 while Sunday circulation fell 6 percent to 379,375. The rise in daily circulation — the third-biggest jump among the top 25 newspapers — was driven largely by inclusion of *tbt, a Monday-to-Friday tabloid that uses content from the Times. The inclusion of the so-called "branded edition" helped the Times remain the largest paper in Florida by a wide margin.

Other newspapers also added branded editions and higher digital circulation to their totals, driving up their circulation figures substantially in some cases. The Tampa Tribune, for instance, saw circulation of its standard print edition fall both daily and Sunday, but its overall circulation rose significantly Monday to Saturday because of the inclusion of branded editions.

Joe DeLuca, Tampa publisher and vice president of the Times, said the Times' Sunday circulation was affected in part by a price increase and by "extreme couponing," which temporarily inflated circulation figures a year ago.

DeLuca highlighted circulation growth in Hillsborough and central Pasco counties in particular, where the Times added more than 13,000 home delivery subscribers daily and more than 11,500 on Sundays.

"Clearly, the market is responding very positively to our product and new name," he said.

Formerly called the St. Petersburg Times, the newspaper changed its name to Tampa Bay Times in January to reflect its broader audience.

The Times is currently the 21st largest newspaper on Sunday and the 15th largest daily circulation paper in the country.

Based on print edition alone, the paper has the 12th largest Sunday circulation nationwide.