The Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press have increased their circulation in recent months—and digital subscriptions to both newspapers are growing at a rapid rate, according to just-released figures from the Alliance for Audited Media.
According to the alliance, which tracks circulation numbers for newspapers across the country, the Star Tribune’s average Sunday circulation between October of last year and March of this year grew 0.1 percent to 515,078 compared to the same period the prior year. Average weekday circulation during the period increased 0.3 percent to 301,345.
Circulation figures include digital subscriptions, which have rapidly gained popularity. The Star Tribune’s digital subscriptions averaged 53,382 on Sundays during the reporting period, up 38.6 percent from the same period the prior year, and its digital subscriptions on weekdays averaged 73,651, up 21.7 percent.
There are other indications that online readership is rapidly growing: Average monthly unique visitors to the newspaper’s website spiked 12.9 percent year-over-year to total 7.8 million during the period. In a Star Tribune-issued news release, Publisher and CEO Mike Klingensmith said that readers are “enthusiastically responding” to digital subscriptions.
The Star Tribune has also experienced gains with its “StribExpress” offering, a free opt-in Sunday edition that’s delivered to non-subscribers and includes exclusive lifestyle content and many of the weekly ads that Sunday subscribers receive. Average Sunday StribExpress distribution between October and March increased 118 percent year-over-year to 64,793 households.
Although the Star Tribune remains a substantially larger newspaper based on circulation, the Pioneer Press saw the larger percentage gains between the two major Minnesota newspapers and ranks higher when it comes to weekday digital subscriptions.
The Pioneer Press’ average Sunday circulation between October and March was 284,507—up 5.1 percent as compared to the same period the prior year. Average weekday circulation over that period grew 1.5 percent to 208,280.
Digital subscriptions appear to be a major growth driver for the Pioneer Press. Its 84,100 average weekday digital subscriptions between October and March represent a year-over-year increase of 10.8 percent and rank it 13th among U.S. newspapers (the Star Tribune ranks 16th with its 73,651 average weekday digital subscriptions). The Pioneer Press’ average digital subscriptions on Sundays during the reporting period totaled 46,555, up 39.9 percent year-over-year.
Meanwhile, the Pioneer Press’ average monthly unique visitors to its website between October and March grew 18.5 percent year-over-year to 2.4 million.
Both local newspapers’ year-over-year gains are particularly significant when compared to data collected from newspapers across the country. Average Sunday circulation among 593 daily newspapers across the country that provided numbers decreased 0.7 percent, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Average weekday circulation among 519 newspapers that shared figures decreased 1.4 percent.
The Star Tribune’s average Sunday circulation is the seventh largest among newspapers nationwide; Sunday circulation for the newspaper’s print edition alone is the fifth largest. Meanwhile, the newspaper’s average daily circulation ranks it 14th nationwide.
In a September feature story, Twin Cities Business explored how Klingensmith had brought fresh ideas, new executives, and a lot of energy to the Star Tribune and appeared to be on the brink of turning the newspaper around. To read that story, click here.
This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.