July 22nd, 2011 by Lloyd Gofton
As the News of the World scandal rolls on leaving egg, or at least shaving foam, in some people’s faces, I wanted to take a moment to see who is benefiting from the demise of the UK’s largest Sunday paper, other than footballers and celebrities of course.
Last Sunday (July 17th) was the first Sunday without the News of the World in over 160 years, and that left 2,667,428 (accordingly to the June ABC figures) looking for a new paper to read.
According to the Guardian, the biggest winners in the NoW reader race were its fellow red tops, mainly The Sunday Mirror and Daily Star Sunday, which launched nationwide TV adverts, along with others such as The People and Mail on Sunday that grabbed as many of those wandering NoW readers as they could.
The Sunday Mirror is thought to have gained almost 730,000 extra sales compared with the previous weekend, increasing sales by 60% to 1.9m copies.
The Daily Star Sunday more than doubled its week-on-week circulation to just over 1m, using the opportunity to launch a new magazine, OK! Extra.
The Sunday Express rose more than 25% to about 700,000, but unsurprisingly, The Sunday broadsheets gained little according to unofficial industry figures, the Sunday Times had a 2.8% sales lift, with the Independent on Sunday up 3%, and the Sunday Telegraph up just more than 3%. The Observer saw a 6% sales rise.
The overall newspaper market was down by about 5% week-on-week on Sunday, showing that the NoW readers are out there looking for an alternative. They haven’t given up just yet. So all in all it was a good week for the Sunday paper sales.
But what of The Mail on Sunday, which many thought would capture the highest percentage of former NoW readers? It jumped about 30% to sales of about 2.6m, however that’s not the end of this tale.
Rumours of new Sunday paper launches have been rife since the end of the News of the World and it appears Associated Newspapers (Publishers of the Daily and Sunday Mail) may be planning a Sunday tabloid of their own in line with NoW readership to capitalise on this wealth of available readers.
Furthermore, probably the worst kept secret in Sunday paper industry is that News International is planning to launch the Sun on Sunday and this is expected to take place in August to coincide with the launch of the new Premier League football season, and therein lies one of the big selling points. Yes the scandal, racy stories and celebrity puff from the NoW was a big part of its success, but its sport coverage, especially in terms of football and the holy grail of red top sport coverage – football gossip – was and remains unrivalled by any of its competitors.
The Sun on Sunday has the opportunity to steam roller back through the market in a matter of weeks and take the NoW readers back in very much the same way unless its soon to be competitors can launch a sustained attack on this important market segment. I agree the lifecycle of celebrity media and red top tattle will come to an end and the signs are there, but not yet. Because like it or not, scandal, celebrity and football sells in the Sunday Red Top market.
I can see the Sun on Sunday picking up where the NoW left off in terms of readers, if not approach,Â within a few months of launch unless the Mirror, Star and People, as well as potentially the Mail on Sunday do something different to bring in these readers.
My hunch is it will be a case of the King is dead, long live the King when August comes and the football season kicks off.