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Referendum sales boost for Scottish titles

A Scottish newspaper publisher has reported increased print circulation and digital subscriptions on the back of last month’s independence referendum.

Glasgow-based daily The Herald saw its print sales rise by 7,500 copies the day after the 16 September vote, and by almost 10,000 copies the day after as Scots narrowly voted to remain part of the UK.

Sister title the Sunday Herald, the only paper to openly come out in favour of independence, also saw its print circulation rise by 64pc in September 2014, compared with the September before, peaking at just under 50,000 copies the weekend after the vote.

And the referendum battle also saw a surge in subscriptions to the Herald website which operates a partial paywall, with 3,500 new subscribers between June and September.

Tim Blott, managing director of the Newsquest-owned Herald & Times Group said: “We enjoyed increased print circulations and reached an unprecedented 2.9m users on alone in September, and were able to play a highly influential role in the wider discussions playing out on social media.

“Our digital, paid readership is growing faster than ever as a result and, having announced we had reached 10,000 paid digital subscribers by July, we saw that rise to 13,500 in just three months, by the end of September.

“Strong stories and informed, opinionated insight spark interest and, regardless of how readers choose to access news, the referendum has had a lasting effect on Scots’ engagement with the social, political and economic factors which influence their daily lives.”

Audited ABC figures released in August 2014 revealed a total audience increase of 39pc during the period January to June 2014 and the Group expects future ABC figures to continue to reflect growing paid audiences.

Added Tim: “The flexibility of our print-digital combination subscription packages suits readers who like the option of scrolling through our mobile site while adding comments through their own social media channels, or relaxing with our SundayLife magazine over the weekend.

“Too much is made of the demise of print newspapers – we in the industry know that paper is merely one vehicle. The true value of newspapers lies in the quality of content and analysis – and the various ways in which we use different media platforms and understand and respond to our readers’ needs.”

Rival publisher Johnston Press has already reported record-breaking web traffic levels alongside a boost in print circulation during the final stages of the Scottish independence vote, the company has revealed.

The Scotsman’s sales rose 13pc on referendum day while the Edinburgh Evening News saw a 5pc increase on the previous week.

The following day, the two papers’ circulation shot up by 21pc week-on-week as the results were announced.

And The Scotsman’s post-result analysis on the Saturday culminated in a peak in print circulation, boosting sales by an 25pc week-on-week.


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  • October 27, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Great results but sales were on the slide before they picked the wrong side to back. I suspect they are in for a big drop – again.
    Glasgow and Scots in general bought more newspapers than the rest of GB so it is sad to see the decline we are now witnessing.

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  • October 28, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Colin, Wow, glass half empty or what! Did you miss the growing web traffic and ‘paid’ digital subscriptions? (as well as year-on-year print increases). ‘Publishers’ don’t just print things now and Scottish audiences still consume more news than the rest of the UK, just more of it online now (and lot of it, ours!)

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  • October 28, 2014 at 9:51 am

    They picked the right side. We can’t no for certain either way but there was more fervour among Yes supporters which is likely to have encouraged a greater desire to read newspapers backing their cause. Bold effort by Sunday Herald which will have done the paper more good than harm.

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  • October 28, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Peter and Eyebrox – my comment wasn’t in any way politically motivated. However, give it 12 months then we will see where the paper is regarding circulation. Digital will possibly continue to pick up but at the expense of print – where the money is.
    I would love to be wrong.

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