Internet boosts readers for newspapers

Far from being the ruin of newspapers, the internet revolution has increased the number of readers of the British press and taken them upmarket, with quality papers now matching tabloid audiences.

Research for the National Readership Survey, combining print and online audiences of publications into a single audience for the first time, shows that websites from what was once known as the "broadsheet" press are outperforming those of red-tops. Both have total print and online monthly UK audiences of about 36.5 million.

The findings also reveal the collapse of The Times's online traffic since News International introduced a paywall strategy in July 2010. The Times website, which requires readers to subscribe, has a monthly UK audience of 295,000 users, rising to 497,000 when the Sunday Times site is included, but still a tiny fraction of its rivals.

Despite this, the rest of the quality sector has grown immensely thanks to the internet. More people now read The Guardian online than buy the newspaper, with the online audience adding 119 per cent to the monthly readership. The Daily Telegraph's audience has grown by 97.5 per cent with the addition of its website readers and The Independent's by 70.2 per cent.

Websites increased the total UK audience of the quality press by 49 per cent by bringing in readers that do not read the print products.

The figures also showed that young people are heavily engaged with newspaper brands. The NRS found that 38 per cent of 15-34 year-olds look at a paper in print or online every day.

News International said its strategy was based on increasing revenues from a smaller base of users.

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