ABC Q4 2023: Newspapers: Stable with marginal declines

Newspaper circulation is stable despite a 5.7% year-on-year decline, and Q4 experiences a marginal drop of -1.5% compared to Q3, culminating in a combined circulation of 6,223,225.
Image: Bizcommunity, Lesley Svenson. Newspaper circulation is showing stability despite a 5.7% year-on-year decline, while Q4 experienced a marginal drop of -1.5% compared to Q3 says the ABC
Image: Bizcommunity, Lesley Svenson. Newspaper circulation is showing stability despite a 5.7% year-on-year decline, while Q4 experienced a marginal drop of -1.5% compared to Q3 says the ABC

This is according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) of South Africa, which released its audited circulation figures for the period October 2023 to December 2023 for the newspaper category today, Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

The ABC says this trend aligns with a five percent annual decrease in its membership. “The collective circulation of all members shows a year-on-year decline of 7.4%. This corresponds with ABC's membership, which decreased by 10%, dropping from 448 in 2022 to 403 by the fourth quarter of 2023,” says the ABC statement.

Quarter-on-quarter, ABC membership decreased slightly from 405 to 403 in total, while year-on-year total membership declined from 448 to 403. Newspaper membership saw a decrease of two members.

Daily newspapers

As in Q3 this category again had slim pickings, exhibiting sharper declines, in this quarter.

Of the 20 Dailies, only two, Die Daily Burger and The Witness had an increase on the previous quarter. No Daily showed an increase on the prior year.

Daily Sun, last quarter’s biggest loser, has changed sector.

PublicationFrequencyPaid circulationFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Daily NationMD, Mo-Sat56,06456,064-8.3%-11.3%
Burger, Die DailyMD, Mo-Fr25,46065026,1100.7%-6.2%
BukeddeMD, Mo-Sat19,00919,009-6.8%-9.5%
Beeld, DailyMD, Mo-Fr18,47354119,014-3.8%-9.3%
IsolezweMD, Mo-Fr17,9941,02819,022-9.5%-29.6%
New VisionMD, Mo-Fr15,5535015,603-5.9%-8.9%
Citizen, The (Daily)MD, Mo-Fr13,5489,36622,914-4.3%-6.3%
Daily SunMo-Fr12,42419212,616-14.5%-55.0%
Times of SwazilandMD, Mo-Fr11,84011,8400%-14.3%
Business DayMD, Mo-Fr11,8351,77013,605-3.7%-5.6%
Daily DispatchMD, Mo-Fr9,50258910,091-7.4%-7.3%
Herald, TheMD, Mo-Fr9,18883310,021-1.1%-3.5%
Star, TheMD, Mo-Fr8,9348,90017,834-6.6%-34.6%
Mercury, TheMD, Mo-Fr5,9843,0859,069-4.5%-17.5%
Cape TimesMD, Mo-Fr5,3183,8769,194-9.4%-18.7%
Witness, TheMD, Mo-Fr5,1031,2106,3130.2%-1.4%
Cape ArgusMD, Mo-Fr4,6373,9348,571-14.0%-18.1%
Daily NewsMD, Mo-Fr4,2432,9237,166-2.9%-19.6%
Son (Daily)MD, Mo-FrChanged Sector 

Weekly newspapers

Again, for this category in this quarter Daily Maverick is the only winner, continuing its increase gains from the previous three quarters to gains in Q4 on the previous quarter and the previous year.

All the other newspapers in the category show decreases with Soccer Laduma in double-figure decreases on the previous quarter and the prior year.

PublicationFrequencyPaid circulationFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Soccer LadumaWkly, Wed48,186248,188-19.8%-27.3%
Ilanga2xW, Mo&Th24,59124,591-9.5%-26.2%
SON WeeklyWkly, Th19,5804919,629-3.7%
Post, TheWkly, Wed12,4183,34815,766-2.5%-15.5%
Daily Maverick,Wkly, Sat9,0931,23610,3292.9%15.7%
Mail & GuardianWkly, Fr7,6677,667-3.1%-9.8%
Lesotho TimesWkly, Th6,6292836,912-12.5%7.9%
Voice, TheWkly, Fr6,4066,406-8.6%-10.1%

Weekend newspapers

There was not much weekend cheer in this category. While in Q3 there had been six newspapers show an increase on the previous quarter, in Q4 only Burger, Die Saturday shows an increase on the previous quarter.

Ilanga Lempela Sonto and Weekend Witness are the only two newspapers to show an increase on the prior year.

Sunday Times is the biggest loser with double-figure decreases on the previous quarter and the prior year.

PublicationFrequencyPaid circulationFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Sunday TimesWknd58,5933,60962,202-27.9%-42.9%
Sunday NationWkly, Sun58,58058,580-8.1%-13.6%
Burger, Die SaturdayWkly, Sat33,94563934,5841.2%-6.5%
Beeld, SaturdayWkly, Sat22,79622223,018-2.8%-10.1%
Isolezwe ngeMpelaSontoWknd20,808220,810-8.7%-6.3%
Ilanga LempelaSontoWknd16,06416,064-9.0%3.2%
Sunday TribuneWkly, Sun12,9663,73016,696-3.2%-14.0%
City PressWknd12,35833212,690-9.0%-22.1%
Sunday WorldWknd12,3452,68115,026-17.8%-36.6%
Sunday VisionWkly, Sun10,2505010,300-22.2%-6.4%
Citizen, The (Saturday)Wkly, Sat7,985628,047-11.0%-14.6%
Independent on SaturdayWkly, Sat7,6383,48211,120-2.5%-14.9%
Weekend PostWknd6,8773777,254-14.5%-10.1%
Daily Dispatch Weekend Edition (formerly Saturday Dispatch)Wknd6,6942616,955-10.8%-18.4%
Weekend ArgusWknd5,2723,9519,223-2.8%-25.9%
Weekend WitnessWkly, Sat4,5631,2315,794-1.0%1.5%
Saturday Star, TheWkly, Sat3,4703,4006,870-6.6%-16.3%
Isolezwe ngeSontoWkly, SunRebranded 

Local newspapers

As so often in past quarters, local newspapers are a highlight.

Five local newspapers show an increase on the previous quarter as well as on the previous year.

The best performer is the Middelburg Observer, Fri with an increase of over five percent on the previous quarter. It was also the best performer on the prior year with an increase of over six percent.

PublicationFrequencyPaid circulationFree circulationTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
Witbank News, FriWkly, Fr20,21720,2174.9%2.9%
Middelburg Observer, FriWkly, Fr17,91717,9175.7%6.1%
African ReporterWkly, Fr13,47213,472-2.5%5.8%
George Herald (Thursday)Wkly, Th8,4268,426-2.3%-9.4%
Mpumalanga NewsWkly, Wed7,3477,3471.7%2.5%
Paarl PostWkly, Th5,372785,450-10.3%-21.2%
Zululand Observer Weekend (Formerly Friday)Wkly, Fr4,2114904,701-6.1%-12.3%
Weslander, TheWkly, Th4,1121944,306-11.3%-19.9%
Limpopo MirrorWkly, Fr3,6483,648-6.4%-21.6%
Mosselbay AdvertiserWkly, Fr3,6083,608-1.7%-15.9%
VaalweekbladWkly, Th2,8672,867-2.9%-7.7%
Zululand Observer MondayWkly, Mon2,1293202,449-9.4%-11.3%
South Cape Forum/Suid Kaap ForumWkly, Th1,3811,381-5.5%-17.7%
Knysna Plett HeraldWkly, Th1,0471,047-6.0%-10.7%
Talk of the TownWkly, Fr1,0311,0313.8%-24.5%
Oudtshoorn CourantWkly, Fr849849-2.2%1.7%
StreeknuusWkly, Fr8298291.7%-17.6%
Graaff Reinet AdvertiserWkly, Th676676-16.6%-9.0%
Worcester StandardWkly, ThRebranded
Bosvelder ReviewWkly, FrChanged Sector
Daller, DieWkly, FrChanged Sector 

Free newspapers

The largest category, Free Newspapers distribution shows pockets of increases, the best of which is over three percent, for Bosvelder Review and Weskus Nuus.

The other increases on the previous quarter are incremental, but so are the decreases, with most newspapers holding steady.

The exception is Diamond Fields Advertiser which showed a big decline on the previous quarter and the prior year.

For the prior year, the picture looks much the same, with incremental increases and decreases in general. There are a few exceptions.

Soweto Urban News continued its good fortunes from Q3 with an increase of over nine percent on the prior year, as did Tygerburger Durbanville which had an increase of over eight percent.

North Coast Courier and Express had double figure increases.

On the flip side, Peoples Post Mitchells Plain had a double figure decrease. Tygerburger Kraaifontein had a decrease just under 10%

PublicationFrequencyTotal circulation% change quarter% change year
PE ExpressWkly, Wed119,995
Soweto Urban NewsWkly, Th109,1009.1%
Sedibeng SterWkly, Th90,980
PlainsmanWkly, Wed89,536
City VisionWkly, Th85,000
Rekord East/OosWkly, Tue78,9550.5%0.2%
VukaniWkly, Wed78,056
Mthatha ExpressWkly, Wed69,995
TabletalkWkly, Wed67,844
Merebank & Chatsworth TabloidWkly, Wed64,980
North Coast Rising SunWkly, Wed64,860
Randburg SunWkly, Th60,104-0.3%0.2%
Rekord CenturionWkly, Wed59,819-0.3%-0.2%
Phoenix TabloidWkly, Tue55,980
Athlone NewsWkly, Wed54,151
Highway MailWkly, Fr54,0130.1%0.3%
Kathorus MailF53,496-0.9%-1.0%
The Springfield Weekly GazetteWkly, Th53,4801.9%
Chatsworth Rising SunWkly, Tue53,050
Sandton ChronicleWkly, Wed49,988-0.1%0.5%
Southern MailWkly, Wed48,853
Kempton ExpressWkly, Th48,660-0.2%-0.7%
Southern Suburbs TatlerWkly, Wed47,238
Roodepoort RecordWkly, Th46,482-0.4%
Bloemfontein Courant (formerly Krant)Wkly, Th44,890
Overport Rising SunWkly, Th44,850
Bedfordview & Edenvale NewsWkly, Wed44,6180.4%-0.7%
Boksburg AdvertiserWkly, Tue43,130-0.2%0.2%
Ster, SouthWkly, Tue41,460
BloemnuusWkly, Th41,095-0.2%-2.3%
Rosebank Killarney GazetteWkly, Tue41,0950.2%0.5%
Ethekwini TimesWkly, Fr40,980
Umlazi TimesWkly, Th40,980
People s Post Mitchells PlainWkly, Tue40,000-20.0%
Rekord North/NoordWkly, Th39,9730.1%
Echo EyethuWkly, Th39,948
Benoni City TimesWkly, Th38,7561.7%1.8%
Alberton RecordWkly, Wed37,6160.1%0.1%
Helderberg Gazette & District MailWkly, Wed36,9260.3%-0.6%
Fourways ReviewWkly, Wed36,715-0.1%-0.2%
Go & ExpressWkly, Th36,693-1.6%-1.6%
Noordkaap BulletinWkly, Th35,284-0.1%
VistaWkly, Th35,2660.1%
Tongaat & Verulam Tabloid (former Northern Star)Wkly, Tue34,980
North Coast CourierWkly, Wed34,9404.9%16.9%
South Coast FeverWkly, Th34,500-0.9%-1.1%
Ridge TimesWkly, Tue34,400
Rekord MootWkly, Th33,5700.2%
Ster, NorthWkly, Tue32,760
Constantiaberg BulletinWkly, Wed31,316
Tygerburger Elsies-, Eersterivier & RavensmeadWkly, Wed31,021
False Bay EchoWkly, Wed30,879
Northcliff & Melville TimesWkly, Tue30,799-0.5%0.7%
Atlantic SunWkly, Wed30,794
Eyethu Bay Watch (Formerly Baywatch)Wkly, Wed30,4701.3%
BolanderWkly, Wed30,461
Tygerburger Table ViewWkly, Wed30,0790.1%
ExpressWkly, Wed30,0550.1%-11.8%
Diamond Fields AdvertiserWkly, Fr30,000-25.0%-25.0%
Standard Breederivier GazetteWkly, Th29,985
Dolphin Coast MailWkly, Wed29,960
East Coast MailWkly, Wed29,960
Maritzburg SunWkly, Wed29,956
Public EyeWkly, Th29,952
Rekord MamelodiWkly, Fr29,9500.2%0.8%
Rising Sun LenasiaWkly, Wed29,925
Issue MangaungWkly, Wed29,900
Umlazi EyethuWkly, Fr29,881
Germiston City NewsWkly, Tue29,807-0.3%0.1%
Polokwane Observer.Wkly, Th29,7603.0%
Rekord NowetoF28,9501.1%
Midrand ReporterWkly, Th28,329-0.2%0.5%
People s Post Athlone & LandsdowneWkly, Tue28,000
UD ExpressWkly, Wed27,687-7.7%-7.7%
Northglen NewsWkly, Fr27,450-0.1%0.3%
Berea MailWkly, Fr27,1420.3%
Roodepoort Northsider (FormerlyNorthside ChronicleWkly, Th26,528-0.5%-0.6%
Krugersdorp NewsWkly, Wed26,4710.5%
Springs AdvertiserWkly, Th25,954-0.2%0.1%
Southern CourierWkly, Tue25,3810.2%
People s Post Woodstock & CityWkly, Tue25,000
People s Post Grassy Park & RetreatWkly, Tue25,000
Eikestadnuus.Wkly, Th23,897-0.2%-0.3%
Intshonalanga EyethuWkly, Fr23,780
Tygerburger DurbanvilleWkly, Wed22,0820.3%8.8%
People s Post False BayWkly, Tue22,000
Xpress TimesWkly, Wed21,980
Issue, Eastern Free StateWkly, Th21,900
Comaro ChronicleWkly, Wed20,854-0.4%
Hermanus Times.Wkly, Wed20,8340.2%0.2%
Rekord West News/Wes NuusF20,2150.1%0.1%
Isolezwe IesiXhosaWkly, Th20,000
People s Post Claremont/RondeboschWkly, Tue20,000
People s Post Constantia/WynbergWkly, Tue20,000
Kouga ExpressWkly, Th19,995
Heidelberg/Nigel HerautWkly, Wed19,9801.9%
Bonus ReviewWkly, Wed19,880-0.1%
South Coast SunWkly, Fr19,8660.1%0.3%
Swartland Gazette (formerly Swartland Monitor).Wkly, Tue19,8602.7%2.5%
Merebank Rising SunWkly, Tue19,850
Mid South Coast Rising SunWkly, Tue19,850
UGU EyethuWkly, Wed19,850-0.3%
Tygerburger BellvilleWkly, Wed19,4140.5%0.6%
Brakpan HeraldWkly, Fr19,156-0.4%0.4%
Tygerburger KuilsrivierWkly, Wed19,077
RepresentativeWkly, Mon18,684-4.9%-5.2%
Rekord Central/SentraalF18,5000.1%
Randfontein / Westonaria Herald.Wkly, Tue18,2560.1%1.0%
Tygerburger BrackenfellWkly, Wed18,238-0.1%
TygerBurger De GrendelWkly, Wed18,114-0.1%
Southlands SunWkly, Fr17,7520.1%
SteelburgerWkly, Th17,700
TygerBurger Tyger ValleyWkly, Wed17,088
Tygerburger MilnertonWkly, Wed17,0680.1%0.1%
Potchefstroom Herald.Wkly, Fr16,930
Northern EyethuMtly15,8880.2%
Weskus NuusF15,5053.4%3.4%
Tygerburger KraaifonteinWkly, Wed15,3930.2%-9.9%
Alex NewsF14,782-0.1%-0.1%
Tygerburger GoodwoodWkly, Wed14,0720.1%
Tygerburger ParowWkly, Wed14,0700.1%
Queensburgh NewsF13,0020.5%0.6%
Vrystaat KroonF12,443-0.3%0.7%
Carletonville Herald.Wkly, Fr11,9900.7%
Zululand Eyethu (formerly Eshowe Watch)Mtly11,9721.0%
Village TalkWkly, Wed11,946
Highvelder, TheWkly, Fr11,760
HerrieWkly, Th11,1361.0%-11.6%
Daily Sun On the GO - ECWkly, Th10,995
Uthukela EyethuWkly, Th9,9850.2%3.3%
Greytown GazetteWkly, Mon9,980
Hazyview HeraldF9,795
Corridor GazetteF9,710
Daily Sun On the GO - FSWkly, Th7,995
YstervarkWkly, Th7,925
Parys GazetteWkly, Fr7,480
Sentinel NewsWkly, Wed7,145
Daily Sun On the GO - KZNWkly, Th5,995
Capricorn Voice ..Q5,8830.1%2.8%
Daily Sun On the GO - WCWkly, Th4,995
The HiltonMtly4,960
Free State SunWkly, Th4,9373.9%
Northern Review WeekendWkly, Fr4,8362.0%
Standerton Advertiser.Wkly, Tue4,750
Mpumalanga MirrorF3,0000.3%
Bosvelder ReviewWkly, Th2,8323.5%
EstcourtWkly, Tue2,420
Maluti NewsWkly, Fr1,595-36.1%
IDISKI TIMESWkly, TueTerminated
Inner City GazetteWkly, ThResigned
Breederivier Gazette.Wkly, WedRebranded
City Vision (Khayalitsha)Wkly, ThRebranded
City Vision (Langa/Gugulethu)Wkly, ThRebranded
City Vision (Lwandle / Nomzamo) former Kasi Vision HelderbergWkly, ThRebranded
Maritzburg EchoWkly, ThRebranded
Msunduzi Eyethu (former Edendale)Wkly, ThRebranded
Tygerburger Eersterivier/Blue DownsWkly, WedRebranded
Tygerburger Elsiesrivier & RavensmeadWkly, WedRebranded
Coastal WeeklyWkly, ThCeased Publishing
Stanger WeeklyWkly, WedCeased Publishing
Umgungundlovu Eyethu (former Umngeni)FCeased Publishing

(Tables by Andre Rademan)

About Danette Breitenbach

Danette Breitenbach is a marketing & media editor at Previously she freelanced in the marketing and media sector, including for Bizcommunity. She was editor and publisher of AdVantage, the publication that served the marketing, media and advertising industry in southern Africa. She has worked extensively in print media, mainly B2B. She has a Masters in Financial Journalism from Wits.
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