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Sunday Star-Times Gains in Auckland Market

Fairfax Sunday Newspapers - Readership Results January To December 2004

- Sunday Star-Times Gains in Competitive Auckland Market -

The latest Nielsen readership results confirm the Sunday Star-Times is New Zealand’s most read newspaper based on average issue readership of 680,000 people 10 yrs+. The results also show that the national broadsheet paper has increased its readership in the competitive Auckland market.

Its sister publication, Sunday News, remains New Zealand’s favourite tabloid and third highest read newspaper based on average issue readership of 475,000 people 10yrs+.

Fairfax New Zealand’s chief executive officer, Brian Evans, said that the latest readership results are significant given the current competitive Sunday newspaper market.

“The last quarter of 2004 saw the introduction of a new competitor in Auckland, and with it, claims of significant brand switching by our competitor. Despite this indications are that both the Sunday Star-Times and Sunday News have posted strong results for the July – December 04 period, due to be released by Nielsen Media Research on March 4th.

“Importantly, despite the increased competition in Auckland, the Sunday Star-Times’ Auckland 10+ readership has grown by 18,000 additional readers and increased penetration while the NZ Herald’s Auckland 15yrs+ average issue penetration has dropped 2% to 42.8%.”

Fairfax Sunday newspapers have a proven reach of 943,000 New Zealanders 10+, reaching 538,000 readers in the Northern region alone.

“The combined readership figures for the two Sunday newspapers should find continual favour with advertisers, offering unrivalled, true national reach with close to a million people throughout New Zealand reading these papers,” said Mr Evans.

National readership penetration for the two papers has dipped slightly when compared to the Jan – Dec 03 period, (SST -1.1%, SN -1.7%), though it is worth noting that this period was one of significant activity for the Sunday Star-Times with the re-launch of the paper and heavy promotional activity that was not repeated this year.

Sunday Star-Times editor, Cate Brett, and Chris Baldock, appointed as Sunday News editor in October, will continue to introduce a number of improvements to their papers to consolidate strong performances in the July – December 2004 period.

Customised Nielsen Study into Sunday Newspaper Market The strong results for the second half of the year, and the Sunday Star-Times’ percentage gain in the Auckland market bode well for Fairfax in the competitive Sunday newspaper market.

These results are backed up by additional research commissioned by Fairfax and conducted by Nielsen Media Research to ascertain what impact the new competitor has had on the Sunday reading market.

The survey took place a month after the launch of the new title (Oct 30 – Nov 8) with a sample of respondents drawn from the national readership survey living in the Northern region, including a combination of Fairfax Sunday newspaper readers and non-readers.

Not surprisingly, being a month out from the launch 72% of respondents had read an issue of the new Auckland Sunday title. Of these people the majority (57%) did not pay for their copy. Despite the fact over half the readers surveyed were receiving the paper free, nearly eight out of ten readers had not bothered to read it each week. Additionally, two thirds of the 72% who had read the new Auckland Sunday title in the four weeks from its launch would not commit to buying the paper regularly or subscribing in the future.

The loyalty factor for the Sunday Star-Times was significant, with 72% of Sunday Star-Times readers surveyed responding that if the paper wasn’t available at their store they would go elsewhere or go without a Sunday read altogether.

Brian Evans comments: “In light of recent claims from our competitor, we have decided to release this research. And while taken from a relatively small sample, (margin of error +/- 7%) it reveals quite a different picture to that painted by the new title in recent communication.”

Sources: Nielsen Media Research National Readership Survey Jan-Dec 2004 Nielsen Media Research - Fairfax Sunday Reader Survey - Wave 2- Nov 2004

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