Newspapers News South Africa

ABC Q2 2023 Newspapers: Hybrid model emerging as digital growth continues

This quarter's Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) of South Africa sees dynamic digital growth in distribution as publishers steer towards an optimised model to remain relevant and reach audiences.
Image: Bizcommunity
Image: Bizcommunity

For example Local newspapers seem to be leaning more towards a hybrid model (the combination of a free and paid model).

In total, in fact,in Q2 2023, hybrid newspapers distribution increased to 89, 933 in Q2, 2023 (Q2, 2022, hybrid newspapers distribution was 74,606). This constitutes a 10% increase in circulation compared to Q1, 2023 and a 20% growth from Q2, 2022, to Q2, 2023.

Some stablisation, with distribution declines

In general this quarter is characterised by flattening curves amidst growth, with some stabilisation, and a decline of distribution figures.

As the ABC says, “Publishing in the current financial climate is navigating a dynamic landscape where economic pressure, technological advancements, and shifting consumer behaviours intersect.”

Overall, the Newspaper category displayed a decline of 3,72% quarter-on-quarter and a decline of 3,73% year-on-year. An overall total of 6,378,511 newspapers this quarter.

Unfortunately, the Daily, Weekly and Weekend newspaper distribution dipped this quarter. Compared to Q2, 2021, Weekly and Daily distribution declined by an average of 26%.

Daily newspapers

Daily newspapers dipped this quarter as the majority of the dailies had a decline on the previous quarter. Double-digit declines were experienced by Isolewe, Daily Sun and Son (Daily) as Isolewe, Daily Sun continued their downward trajectory experienced in Q1 2023.
Five dailies showed increases on the previous quarter; Sowetan, Citizen, The (Daily), Business Day, Herald, The and Witness, The , with Business Day, and Herald, The continuing good gains from Q1 2023.

PublicationFrequencyPaid circulationFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Daily NationMD, Mo-Sat60,09560,095-4.8%-14.8%
Burger, Die DailyMD, Mo-Fr25,51566426,179-5.1%-5.7%
IsolezweMD, Mo-Fr22,3252222,347-10.4%-26.0%
BukeddeMD, Mo-Sat19,39419,394-2.2%-19.4%
Beeld, DailyMD, Mo-Fr19,28862819,916-5.3%-5.2%
Daily SunMo-Fr16,53619216,728-28.6%-48.8%
New VisionMD, Mo-Fr16,36915016,519-0.6%-8.4%
Citizen, The (Daily)MD, Mo-Fr15,1219,43724,5580.5%-1.8%
Son (Daily)MD, Mo-Fr13,5985713,655-11.4%-25.5%
Business DayMD, Mo-Fr12,7051,91914,6240.6%-3.7%
Star, TheMD, Mo-Fr12,36211,71624,078-5.9%-13.8%
Times of SwazilandMD, Mo-Fr12,07012,070-9.2%-16.3%
Daily DispatchMD, Mo-Fr10,19415910,353-3.8%-8.0%
Herald, TheMD, Mo-Fr9,9311,64511,5765.7%0.8%
Mercury, TheMD, Mo-Fr7,1263,04410,170-4.1%-12.0%
Cape TimesMD, Mo-Fr6,8503,64210,492-3.9%-9.8%
Cape ArgusMD, Mo-Fr6,2683,93410,202-1.4%-4.4%
Witness, TheMD, Mo-Fr5,7984576,2551.2%-8.1%
Daily NewsMD, Mo-Fr4,8972,8717,768-6.2%-17.4%
Pretoria NewsMD, Mo-FrResigned

Weekly newspapers

Boasting this quarter's smallest decline from Q1, 2023, the seven weeklies that make up this category, had almost half - three – show an increase on the previous quarter. Daily Maverick upward movement form Q1 2023 continued into this quarter, while Mail & Guardian in a reversal of fortunes, from the biggest percentage decrease on the previous quarter in Q1 2023, increased on the previous quarter.

PublicationFrequencyPaid circulationFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Soccer LadumaWkly, Wed61,29761,297-2.9%-18.0%
Ilanga2xW, Mo&Th28,99728,997-7.2%-22.0%
Post, TheWkly, Wed13,5603,55017,110-3.9%-12.6%
Daily Maverick,Wkly, Sat8,8961,43010,3263.6%24.4%
Lesotho TimesWkly, Th8,1524508,60214.2%30.8%
Mail & GuardianWkly, Fr7,9911728,1637.0%-5.2%
Voice, TheWkly, Fr6,9986,998-0.2%-11.7%

Weekend newspapers

In a similar picture to Q1 2023, six of the 20 weekend newspapers had an increase on the previous quarter, (in Q1 2023 seven weekend newspapers had increases) while the rest all showed declines. The only double-digital increase came from Ilanga LempelaSonto while Sunday Vision which had a double-digit increase in Q1 2023, continued it good run with a 4.4% increase on the previous quarter.

PublicationFrequencyPaid circulationFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Sunday TimesWknd72,35020,23292,5820.6%-17.7%
Sunday NationWkly, Sun63,96263,962-2.8%-20.1%
Burger, Die SaturdayWkly, Sat34,78065535,435-5.3%-8.1%
Beeld, SaturdayWkly, Sat23,97423124,205-7.0%-8.3%
Isolezwe ngeMpelaSontoWknd19,846219,8483.1%-13.0%
Ilanga LempelaSontoWknd17,50517,50518.4%2.3%
Sunday WorldWknd17,2952,70019,995-10.3%-28.8%
City PressWknd14,54131214,853-10.0%-17.5%
Sunday TribuneWkly, Sun14,1473,67917,826-4.3%-14.0%
Sunday VisionWkly, Sun12,77715012,9274.3%11.6%
Citizen, The (Saturday)Wkly, Sat9,074399,113-3.1%-7.8%
Independent on SaturdayWkly, Sat8,5213,48312,004-4.7%-13.6%
Weekend PostWknd8,1974508,6470.3%3.4%
Daily Dispatch Weekend Edition (formerly Saturday Dispatch)Wknd7,4821027,584-7.1%-17.0%
Weekend ArgusWknd5,9524,51110,463-14.6%-18.8%
Weekend WitnessWkly, Sat4,9734335,4060.2%-9.1%
Saturday Star, TheWkly, Sat4,3633,3097,672-7.2%-8.2%
Pretoria News SaturdayWkly, SatResigned
Isolezwe ngeSontoWkly, SunRebranded

Local newspapers

An unhappy category with only the increases on the previous quarter. However this category’s figures also reflets its move more and more into a hybrid space, which was also a factor in Q1 2023.

PublicationFrequencyPaid circulationFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Witbank News, FriWkly, Fr19,35219,352-1.2%-3.8%
Middelburg Observer, FriWkly, Fr17,14017,1400.0%-0.1%
African ReporterWkly, Fr13,78113,7810.8%-4.5%
George Herald (Thursday)Wkly, Th8,6768,676-3.5%-8.6%
Mpumalanga NewsWkly, Wed7,4137,413-4.4%-0.3%
Paarl PostWkly, Th6,040496,089-7.9%-9.4%
Weslander, TheWkly, Th4,6862054,891-3.7%-10.1%
Worcester StandardWkly, Th4,67874,685-9.0%-11.2%
Zululand Observer Weekend (Formerly Friday)Wkly, Fr4,5764905,066-3.6%-14.5%
Limpopo MirrorWkly, Fr3,8033,803-11.8%-9.9%
Mosselbay AdvertiserWkly, Fr3,7873,787-7.3%-11.9%
VaalweekbladWkly, Th2,7592,759-4.7%-12.1%
Zululand Observer MondayWkly, Mon2,3653202,685-2.9%-19.8%
South Cape Forum/Suid Kaap ForumWkly, Th1,4751,475-12.4%-16.9%
Knysna Plett HeraldWkly, Th1,0881,088-6.6%-1.2%
Talk of the TownWkly, Fr1,0571,057-10.2%-23.2%
StreeknuusWkly, Fr939939-5.5%-17.2%
Oudtshoorn CourantWkly, Fr8688680.9%-9.2%
Graaff Reinet AdvertiserWkly, Th797797-6.0%-1.5%
Bosvelder ReviewWkly, Fr6488871,53546.5%13.8%
The CourierWkly, FrTerminated
Daller, DieWkly, FrChanged Sector
Estcourt and Midlands NewsWkly, FrChanged Sector
Northern Natal CourierWkly, FrChanged Sector
Northern Review WeekendWkly, FrChanged Sector
Vryheid HeraldWkly, FrChanged Sector

Free newspapers

The largest category, Free Newspapers distribution is still 24% higher than Q2, 2021. However, compared to Q1 2023, there was a 4% drop in circulation.

Year-on-Year, Free newspapers distribution exhibits a stable performance with Q2, 2022 distribution being 5,534,590 compared to Q2, 2023 of 5,427,591.

Free Newspapers also see a few mergers where two or three titles become one. This highlights publishers' challenges and how they find ways to remain relevant.

PublicationFrequencyTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
PE ExpressWkly, Wed119,9950.0%0.0%
Soweto Urban NewsWkly, Th102,021-6.5%-6.5%
Sedibeng SterWkly, Th90,9800.0%0.0%
PlainsmanWkly, Wed89,5360.0%0.0%
City VisionWkly, Th85,461
Rekord East/OosWkly, Tue78,9210.2%-0.2%
VukaniWkly, Wed78,0560.0%0.0%
Mthatha ExpressWkly, Wed69,9950.0%0.0%
TabletalkWkly, Wed67,8440.0%0.0%
Merebank & Chatsworth TabloidWkly, Wed64,9800.0%11.6%
North Coast Rising SunWkly, Wed64,8600.0%0.0%
Randburg SunWkly, Th60,095-0.2%0.4%
Rekord CenturionWkly, Wed60,0260.3%-0.4%
Phoenix TabloidWkly, Tue55,9800.0%0.0%
Athlone NewsWkly, Wed54,1510.0%0.0%
Highway MailWkly, Fr54,0370.5%5.8%
Kathorus MailF54,0250.0%0.1%
The Springfield Weekly GazetteWkly, Th53,2491.5%1.5%
Chatsworth Rising SunWkly, Tue53,0500.0%0.0%
Sandton ChronicleWkly, Wed50,4770.6%0.8%
Southern MailWkly, Wed48,8530.0%0.0%
Kempton ExpressWkly, Th48,664-0.5%0.3%
Southern Suburbs TatlerWkly, Wed47,2380.0%0.0%
Roodepoort RecordWkly, Th46,548-0.3%-0.3%
Bloemfontein Courant (formerly Krant)Wkly, Th44,8900.0%0.0%
Overport Rising SunWkly, Th44,8500.0%0.0%
Bedfordview & Edenvale NewsWkly, Wed44,614-0.4%0.3%
Boksburg AdvertiserWkly, Tue43,1960.2%-1.1%
BloemnuusWkly, Th41,7000.0%-0.1%
Ster, SouthWkly, Tue41,4600.0%0.0%
Rosebank Killarney GazetteWkly, Tue41,1820.2%0.2%
Ethekwini TimesWkly, Fr40,9800.0%0.0%
Umlazi TimesWkly, Th40,9800.0%0.0%
Diamond Fields AdvertiserWkly, Fr40,0000.0%
People s Post Mitchells PlainWkly, Tue40,000-20.0%-20.0%
Echo EyethuWkly, Th39,948
Rekord North/NoordWkly, Th39,9470.0%0.2%
Benoni City TimesWkly, Th38,0490.1%-0.2%
Alberton RecordWkly, Wed37,6660.0%-0.3%
Go & ExpressWkly, Th37,2910.0%-0.1%
Helderberg Gazette & District MailWkly, Wed36,9930.0%4.8%
Fourways ReviewWkly, Wed36,8840.1%0.7%
Noordkaap BulletinWkly, Th35,2590.1%0.0%
VistaWkly, Th35,2320.0%0.0%
Tongaat & Verulam Tabloid (former Northern Star)Wkly, Tue34,9800.0%0.0%
South Coast FeverWkly, Th34,9380.4%0.1%
Ridge TimesWkly, Tue34,4000.0%-0.5%
Rekord MootWkly, Th33,5770.1%0.0%
Ster, NorthWkly, Tue32,7600.0%0.0%
Constantiaberg BulletinWkly, Wed31,3160.0%0.0%
Tygerburger Elsies-, Eersterivier & RavensmeadWkly, Wed31,166
Northcliff & Melville TimesWkly, Tue30,9040.4%1.2%
False Bay EchoWkly, Wed30,8790.0%0.0%
Atlantic SunWkly, Wed30,7940.0%0.0%
Eyethu Bay Watch (Formerly Baywatch)Wkly, Wed30,4700.4%1.3%
BolanderWkly, Wed30,4610.0%0.0%
Tygerburger Table ViewWkly, Wed30,0640.0%-1.5%
ExpressWkly, Wed30,042-11.8%-11.8%
UD ExpressWkly, Wed29,9950.0%0.0%
Germiston City NewsWkly, Tue29,9650.7%0.1%
Dolphin Coast MailWkly, Wed29,9604.0%0.0%
East Coast MailWkly, Wed29,9604.0%0.0%
Maritzburg SunWkly, Wed29,9560.0%0.0%
Public EyeWkly, Th29,9520.0%0.0%
Rekord MamelodiWkly, Fr29,9500.0%0.0%
Rising Sun LenasiaWkly, Wed29,9250.0%0.0%
North Coast CourierWkly, Wed29,9190.1%0.1%
Issue MangaungWkly, Wed29,9000.0%0.0%
Umlazi EyethuWkly, Fr29,8810.0%0.0%
Polokwane Observer.Wkly, Th29,7540.1%0.0%
Rekord NowetoF28,9500.0%0.0%
Midrand ReporterWkly, Th28,3750.8%0.6%
People s Post Athlone & LandsdowneWkly, Tue28,0000.0%0.0%
Northglen NewsWkly, Fr27,5090.6%3.1%
Berea MailWkly, Fr27,1130.3%1.9%
Roodepoort Northsider (FormerlyNorthside ChronicleWkly, Th26,656-0.4%-0.3%
Krugersdorp NewsWkly, Wed26,4620.0%0.3%
Springs AdvertiserWkly, Th25,8970.4%-0.6%
Southern CourierWkly, Tue25,4020.8%0.0%
People s Post Woodstock & CityWkly, Tue25,0000.0%0.0%
People s Post Grassy Park & RetreatWkly, Tue25,0000.0%0.0%
Eikestadnuus.Wkly, Th24,0891.1%1.3%
Intshonalanga EyethuWkly, Fr23,7800.0%0.0%
Tygerburger DurbanvilleWkly, Wed22,0128.3%7.4%
People s Post False BayWkly, Tue22,0000.0%0.0%
Xpress TimesWkly, Wed21,9801.1%0.0%
Issue, Eastern Free StateWkly, Th21,9000.0%0.0%
Comaro ChronicleWkly, Wed20,9880.0%0.9%
Hermanus Times.Wkly, Wed20,7360.2%0.6%
Rekord West News/Wes NuusF20,2000.0%0.0%
Isolezwe IesiXhosaWkly, Th20,0000.0%
People s Post Claremont/RondeboschWkly, Tue20,0000.0%0.0%
People s Post Constantia/WynbergWkly, Tue20,0000.0%0.0%
Kouga ExpressWkly, Th19,9950.0%0.0%
Heidelberg/Nigel HerautWkly, Wed19,9801.8%1.9%
Umgungundlovu Eyethu (former Umngeni)F19,9600.0%0.0%
UGU EyethuWkly, Wed19,9300.4%0.4%
Bonus ReviewWkly, Wed19,8810.0%0.2%
South Coast SunWkly, Fr19,8630.4%3.5%
Merebank Rising SunWkly, Tue19,8500.0%0.0%
Mid South Coast Rising SunWkly, Tue19,8500.0%0.0%
RepresentativeWkly, Mon19,616-0.4%-26.6%
Swartland Gazette (formerly Swartland Monitor).Wkly, Tue19,3600.6%0.2%
Tygerburger BellvilleWkly, Wed19,235-0.2%-0.3%
Brakpan HeraldWkly, Fr19,179-0.9%-0.5%
Tygerburger KuilsrivierWkly, Wed19,0740.0%-0.4%
Rekord Central/SentraalF18,5000.0%0.0%
Randfontein / Westonaria Herald.Wkly, Tue18,2560.4%0.5%
Tygerburger BrackenfellWkly, Wed18,229-0.5%-1.8%
TygerBurger De GrendelWkly, Wed18,0820.0%-0.9%
Southlands SunWkly, Fr17,7860.7%2.7%
SteelburgerWkly, Th17,7000.0%0.0%
TygerBurger Tyger ValleyWkly, Wed17,085-0.1%-0.6%
Tygerburger MilnertonWkly, Wed17,0510.0%-2.0%
Potchefstroom Herald.Wkly, Fr16,9380.0%0.0%
Northern EyethuMtly15,8880.1%0.2%
Tygerburger KraaifonteinWkly, Wed15,341-10.2%-12.7%
Weskus NuusF14,9950.0%0.0%
Alex NewsF14,7900.0%0.1%
Tygerburger ParowWkly, Wed14,0690.0%-0.6%
Tygerburger GoodwoodWkly, Wed14,0600.0%-0.1%
Queensburgh NewsF13,0281.4%1.6%
HerrieWkly, Th12,621-1.3%-0.2%
Vrystaat KroonF12,4130.2%0.6%
Breederivier Gazette.Wkly, Wed12,3511.8%0.4%
Carletonville Herald.Wkly, Fr11,9900.7%0.7%
Zululand Eyethu (formerly Eshowe Watch)Mtly11,9720.3%1.0%
Village TalkWkly, Wed11,9460.0%0.0%
Highvelder, TheWkly, Fr11,7600.0%0.0%
Daily Sun On the GO - ECWkly, Th10,9950.0%0.0%
Greytown GazetteWkly, Mon9,9800.0%0.8%
Uthukela EyethuWkly, Th9,9582.5%0.7%
Hazyview HeraldF9,7950.0%0.0%
Corridor GazetteF9,7100.0%0.0%
Daily Sun On the GO - FSWkly, Th7,9950.0%0.0%
YstervarkWkly, Th7,9250.0%0.0%
Parys GazetteWkly, Fr7,4800.0%0.0%
Sentinel NewsWkly, Wed7,1450.0%0.0%
Daily Sun On the GO - KZNWkly, Th5,9950.0%0.1%
Capricorn Voice ..Q5,8800.0%-0.2%
Daily Sun On the GO - WCWkly, Th4,9950.0%0.0%
The HiltonMtly4,9600.0%0.0%
Free State SunWkly, Th4,9370.0%3.9%
Northern Review WeekendWkly, Fr4,836-0.3%
Standerton Advertiser.Wkly, Tue4,7500.0%0.0%
Maluti NewsWkly, Fr1,595-36.1%-36.1%
Maseru MetroWkly, ThTerminated
IDISKI TIMESWkly, TueSuspended
Inner City GazetteWkly, ThResigned
City Vision (Khayalitsha)Wkly, ThRebranded
City Vision (Langa/Gugulethu)Wkly, ThRebranded
City Vision (Lwandle / Nomzamo) former Kasi Vision HelderbergWkly, ThRebranded
Maritzburg EchoWkly, ThRebranded
Msunduzi Eyethu (former Edendale)Wkly, ThRebranded
Southern StarWkly, FrRebranded
Tygerburger Eersterivier/Blue DownsWkly, WedRebranded
Tygerburger Elsiesrivier & RavensmeadWkly, WedRebranded
Komani Karoo ExpressMtlyDiscontinued
Coastal WeeklyWkly, ThCeased Publishing
Stanger WeeklyWkly, WedCeased Publishing

About Danette Breitenbach

Danette Breitenbach is a marketing & media editor at Previously she freelanced in the marketing and media sector, including for Bizcommunity. She was editor and publisher of AdVantage, the publication that served the marketing, media and advertising industry in southern Africa. She has worked extensively in print media, mainly B2B. She has a Masters in Financial Journalism from Wits.

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