2015 Circulation Facts, Figures & Logic

  • John Murray
  • 07.31.2015

A Resource for Circulation Performance Standards and Industry Trends

FFL2015CoversmallCirculation Facts, Figures & Logic has become an essential publication that publishers and circulation executives rely on for measuring performance and industry standards. 2015 is the latest installment of the ongoing circulation study documenting fundamental changes in marketing the daily newspaper and the role these strategic changes play in the development of the industry’s the new business model.

The study covers a range of circulation metrics, including subscription sales, subscriber churn, retention data by sales source, single-copy sales by outlet and subscriber payment practices.

The 115-page report includes an executive summary; section on the latest multi-platform audience data; in-depth look at the new data on distribution practices, marketing home delivery, single-copy sales and customer service; and “Just the Facts” section containing findings from most questions in the survey. Trending from previous surveys is provided on questions for which the data was comparable.

The study and resulting electronic report are downloadable and available at no charge to members.

Click here to download your PDF copy.



This new installment of Circulation Facts, Figures & Logic captures and quantifies many of the changes in the newspaper business model and the move to marketing content across platforms. Newspaper circulation operational and consumer marketing strategies have played a substantive role in the evolving newspaper business model.

This comprehensive survey was conducted from late 2014 to early 2015, as newspapers continued to experiment with marketing digital content with the combined goal of expanding the newspaper audience, increasing revenue and streamlining operations.

This installment demonstrates a continued focus on revenue, with insights into how newspapers are incorporating digital subscription packages into the revenue strategy. The result is consistent with a newspaper business model more dependent on the profitability of marketing the newspaper to readers across platforms.


Study Highlights:

– Audience and circulation divisions are continuing to make a substantial investment in acquiring new print and digital subscribers, while increasing efficiencies in other areas.

– Newspapers have become increasingly dependent on consumer revenues, and the data provides insights into the tactics and strategies that have been applied to increasing the revenue per reader while minimizing related expenses.

– Continued improvements are being made in operational efficiency, selective pricing and revenues per subscriber, resulting in substantial gains in profitability in the traditional circulation functions of a newspaper.

– Continued improvements in managing expenses, such as outsourcing, more efficient sales efforts, lower margins at the distributor level and a smaller workforce are evident.

– On the revenue side, significant factors include the improved value proposition from adding digital components, premium pricing of the seven-day subscription and more strategic discounts. Inherent in this strategy is a willingness to accept lower total paid circulation averages, particularly on weekdays with less advertising support.

NMA and its members appreciate the work of the committee of circulation executives who crafted the questionnaire, as well as the newspaper executives who devoted their time and resources to respond to the survey, resulting in a valuable tool for marketing your newspaper, retaining readers, and building new audiences. If your newspaper participated but is not an NMA member, and you have not received your complimentary copy of the report, please contact us.


  • John Murray
John Murray is the Vice President of Audience Development at News Media Alliance.