SYDNEY: Print news readership in Australia is continuing to grow even as print advertising spend declines, with online readership via websites and apps driving growth, according to new industry data.

Research firm Roy Morgan observed a 3.2% increase in news media readership over the past year to 16.1 million Australians, or nearly 80% of the country’s population aged 14-plus and around 500,000 more people than the same period a year ago.

The readership survey of more than 50,000 Australians covered print news media accessed over an average seven-day period, via print or online (website or app) platforms.

It’s good news for Australia’s largest news publishers, with four of the top five mastheads seeing an increase in readership across platforms in the 12 months to March 2018, even as print circulation continues to decline over time.

The figures indicate that, with online readership continuing to grow, digital advertising options will remain top of mind for the country’s biggest news brands.

But print news is far from dead in Australia: 7.3 million Australians read print newspapers, including more than 5.2 million who read weekday issues, more than 4.4 million who read Saturday editions and nearly four million who read Sunday titles.

The biggest year-on-year growth in cross-platform readership was by Melbourne’s flagship newspaper, The Age, which saw a readership boost of 10.9% to 3.1 million.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald remained Australia’s most-read daily newspaper with a cross-platform readership of 4,269,000, up 0.6% from a year ago.

The Herald also kept the upper hand over its News Corp-owned rival, the Daily Telegraph, where growth was almost flat at just over 3.3 million readers.

The Roy Morgan Single Source survey covered 50,014 Australians aged 14-plus in the 12 months to March 2018.

Sourced from Roy Morgan; additional content by WARC staff