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Nov 1, 2012

Solid digital gains in US circulation, but can anyone make it pay?

Despite continuing solid digital circulation gains for papers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the question still remains on whether people will pay for news.

Glenn Dyer — <em>Crikey</em> business and media commentator

Glenn Dyer

Crikey business and media commentator

As Fairfax prepares to shrink the size of its broadsheets and introduce a paywall next March, and News Limited struggles with its paywall approach, the latest circulation figures and quarterly reports from the US print media contain deeper warnings about the difficulties of such a switch, despite solid digital gains for papers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

The US Audit Bureau of Circulations survey for the six months to September shows that compared to the same six-month period in 2011, print and digital circulation fell 0.2% for the 613 Monday to Friday newspapers included in the survey, while sales for the 528 Sunday newspapers in the survey rose 0.6%. Digital circulations accounted for 15.3% of total circulation — a rise of more than 60% in 12 months, thanks to more papers like The NY Times going to variations on a paywall that has been in place at The Wall Street Journal for a number of years.

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