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Denver Post online circulation figures better than print, but hookup with The Onion is no joke

Categories: Media

Thumbnail image for william dean singleton.jpg
Dean Singleton.
Update:As of yesterday afternoon, the Denver Post hadn't published an article about its latest circulation report -- for space reasons, perhaps? However, such a piece appears in today's print edition -- and it's less spin-happy than usual, straightforwardly conceding that sales of physical copies continue to slide while online visits are up. More details about the figures -- and the Onion -- below:

Original item, 2:33 p.m. October 25: For the first time in recent memory, Dean Singleton's Denver Post didn't report about its latest circulation figures in a carefully written business-section article, opting instead to shape the numbers in a house ad similar in tone to a press release on view below. And that's smart, since what the release calls "modest" print-circ declines are tough to frame in a positive way, unlike online growth and a new affiliation with (really) The Onion.

According to this Media Life roundup, Monday through Friday circulation has declined approximately 4.99 percent for newspapers nationwide in the past year as measured by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the official industry accountant. By that measure, the Post's M-F decline of 9.12 percent -- from 340,949 a year ago to 309,863 now -- is grim, if not quite as bad as, say, the 11.21 percent dip experienced by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sundays, meanwhile, the Post's decline of 4.61 percent -- from a 2009 total of 495,485 to 472,664 a year later -- is more in line with the average slippage of 4.46 percent.

To make these figures seem less dire, the Post's release likens the latest digits to those calculated six months ago rather than this time in 2009. That comparison shows declines of 7 percent and 3 percent for weekdays and Sundays, respectively.

Looking back further than Media Life produces even uglier results, as totals provided by one newspaper veteran demonstrate. In September 2008, the last full report during which the Rocky Mountain News and the Post competed, the former's Monday-Friday circulation was 210,281 and the latter's was 210,585. That means somewhere between 23 and 26 percent fewer papers are being sold now than two years ago -- still impressive, but a pretty big hit. And the Post's Sunday edition is down 13.3 percent over the same period.

Lucky thing the Post's digital figures continue to improve -- and a new deal to print and handle business matters for The Onion will provide more revenue, too, if not an enormous amount.

Check out the Post's spin on these developments in these separate press releases:

Denver Post print and digital audience dominates market

Monthly visitors to DenverPost.com hit 6 million; mobile traffic increases 85%

DENVER (Oct. 25, 2010) -- The Denver Post and DenverPost.com continue to dominate all media in the metro area market, according to a detailed analysis of the latest audience figures compiled by The Post. Over the past six months, Denver Post online traffic and mobile page views have exploded, while the printed Post showed modest declines in circulation.

According to the current Denver Scarborough Report and Omniture online traffic reports, one issue of The Sunday Denver Post is read by 1,085,000 adults and an average of 707,000 read the daily Post. Those print readers combined with the 1,515,000 average weekly DenverPost.com unique visitors gives The Denver Post a total weekly audience of 2.9 million and a monthly audience of 7.3 million, which represents the largest total audience in the 118-year history of The Denver Post.

"As soon as new platforms for viewing news, information and advertising are introduced, we're making sure that The Denver Post brand is available on them," said Denver Post President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Grilly. "People have so many choices to receive information today and our new numbers prove the majority are continuing to choose a name they can trust -- The Denver Post."

"We now have apps for our news coverage, our pro football coverage and snow report," said Grilly. "The snow report app includes Twitter feeds so users can instantly find which resort has the best snow, and get deals directly from that resort. Our Colorado Travel Twitter feed is followed by thousands of people looking for vacation deals and discount getaways. This month we launched Denver Daily Deals, a collective-buying program that can save our readers 50 to 80 percent on things they use every day. And we're very excited about our brand-new iPad app, which will be released by the end of the year. These new products are clearly resonating with our readers and advertisers."

The Denver Post recently filed its annual September Publisher's Statement with the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), the industry's official monitor of newspaper circulation in the United States. The numbers are being released today in ABC's FAS-FAX report.

Circulation for the six months ending Sept. 2010 for the Sunday Denver Post was reported at 472,664, circulation for The Saturday Post was 376,548, and Monday through Friday circulation was 309,863. Compared to the March 2010 ABC Publisher's Statement, the latest circulation numbers show minimal declines -- Denver Post Sunday and Saturday circulation declined by three percent and the daily Post declined by seven percent. During the same time period, users of The Post's digital sites increased 11 to 85 percent.

"Every week our total print readership averages 1.4 million adults, which blows all our competitors away," said Bill Reynolds, Denver Post senior vice president of circulation. "Our print, digital and mobile audience numbers dominate the market, delivering outstanding results to our advertisers."

DenverPost.com continues to be Colorado's most-visited website. According to Omniture, over the past six months (April - Sept. 2010), DenverPost.com averaged over 5.5 million unique visitors each month, an 11 percent increase when compared to the previous six-month average (Oct. 2009 - March 2010). Last month alone, DenverPost.com had 6,007,000 unique visitors who accessed more than 38 million pages. The network of all sites owned by The Post, which includes DailyCamera.com and BroomfieldEnterprise.com, had 7,332,000 unique visitors accessing 46 million pages in September, according to Omniture.

As more and more people use smart phones and other devices to access news and advertising information on the web, The Denver Post mobile website has seen exponential growth, reaching a new high of 3.6 million page views in September. According to Omniture, over the past six months (April-Sept. 2010), page views of m.denverpost.com averaged 2,493,000 each month, an increase of 85 percent when compared to the monthly average for the previous six months (Oct. 2009-March 2010). Nearly 16,000 people have downloaded the Denver Post iPhone app since its debut in June of this year.

The Denver Post also dominates the evolving social media marketplace. More people follow The Post on Facebook and Twitter than any other local media competitor. As of Sept. 2010, The Post has 404,000 combined followers on Twitter, a 115 percent increase since April 2010. On Facebook, The Post has 59,000 combined fans, a 150 percent increase since April.

Sources: 2010 R.1 Denver Scarborough Report, Denver DMA geography; Total Omniture weekly average and monthly unique visitors for September 2010; Denver Post website network includes Prairie Mountain Publishing sites; DenverPost.com includes DenverPost.com/classifieds and YourHub.com; October 2009 - September 2010 Omniture and OpenX.

The Denver Post announces Partnership with The Onion

Onion to maintain all content, Post to run business side of Denver edition

DENVER (Oct. 22, 2010) -- The Denver Post, Colorado's media leader, has entered into a new partnership with the satirical newspaper The Onion and its pop-culture focused publication The A.V. Club. The partnership will be similar to agreements The Onion has with other newspapers around the country.

Terms of the agreement call for The Onion to maintain exclusive rights over all comedy and pop-culture content for the Denver edition, while The Denver Post takes on The Onion's advertising sales, printing and distribution.

"This is a mutually-beneficial agreement for both companies," said Denver Post President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Grilly. "It gives our advertising team another audience to offer advertisers, in a product that's very familiar to the market. And while we worry about the business operations, The Onion will have more time to make people in Denver laugh."

The Denver agreement is similar to others in cities across the nation as The Onion continues to expand. Print editions of The Onion are currently available in eight cities, with a total nationwide circulation of 350,000. Other newspapers that have partnered with The Onion include the Chicago Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Austin American Statesman and the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.

"This is a perfect union between two of America's Finest News Sources," said Steve Hannah, President and CEO of The Onion. "The Post is the undisputed king of media in Colorado and The Onion, as The New Yorker said of us, is 'arguably the most popular humor periodical in world history.' We have been circulating in Denver since 1995, a few years after The Onion was founded at the University of Wisconsin. If you ask anyone in Denver or Boulder where The Onion originated, they will likely say Denver or Boulder. That's how closely our Colorado readers relate to us. After 15 years, it remains one of our strongest markets."

The Onion started in 1988 as a weekly newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, The Onion and The A.V. Club reach approximately 1.8 million readers in print weekly and 10 million monthly online. The Onion has also produced several bestselling books and produces a Peabody award-winning web-video channel.

The Denver Post is Colorado's media leader, publishing the state's largest daily newspaper and website, DenverPost.com. The Post also publishes the Boulder Daily Camera, Colorado Daily, Viva Colorado, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in Colorado, the Broomfield Enterprise and an array of niche publications and websites. According to the latest Denver Scarborough Report and Omniture, The Denver Post and DenverPost.com have a total weekly audience of 2.9 million and a monthly audience of 7.3 million.

The agreement between The Denver Post and The Onion is expected to take effect on November 11, 2010.

More from our Media archive: "Denver Post circulation press release and article: Can you tell the difference?"

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