Saturday, April 23, 2016

Standard Times Endures Readership Loss & New Owners

Journal Media Group's recent 10-K filing included statistics on readership for San Angelo's Standard Times:

1996 - 32,000 Daily paid,  39,000 Sunday 
2000 - 29,000 Daily paid,  35,000 Sunday 
2008 - 24,000 Daily paid,  28,000 Sunday 
2012 - 18,000 Daily paid,  22,000 Sunday 
2014 - 16,000 Daily paid,  18,000 Sunday
2015 - 14,000 Daily paid,  16,000 Sunday

Standard Times circulation dropped over 55% the last two decades.

It fell after the paper instituted a paywall to "restore revenue growth" in May 2013.  The company described the move:

As we implemented metered access to our digital content in 2012 and 2013, we significantly increased subscription prices to many of our subscribers. Going forward we expect to manage price increases in an effort to obtain the highest yield from our subscriber base. Many customers are price-sensitive, particularly when we have reduced content they consider valuable. In an effort to minimize customer churn and maximize profitability, we have and will continue to use analysis of customer price sensitivity to drive price increases on targeted subscribers and limit the price increases on other subscribers.

We have also implemented marketing strategies to gain new customers, primarily through digital channels with special offers designed to obtain subscribers, particularly digital customers. We have also run a number of in-paper advertisements encouraging subscribers to register their account on-line, which allows us to monetize their online activity with certain advertisers who target specific customers based on demographics, which drives higher advertising rates.
JMG's SEC filing reported the number of digital only subscribers for its 17 newspapers in 14 markets:

As of December 31, 2015, we had approximately 50,000 digital-only subscribers across all of our markets. 
JMG merged with Gannett on April 1st.  We'll see what Gannett reports next April on our local newspaper.  Until then I hope you are not the Standard Times customer having price increases driven upon them.  May you be the subscriber they pass over.

Update 4-24-17:  New owner Gannett did not publish readership statistics for the Standard Times for 2016.   Our local paper got lumped into a media organization number for Texas.   Gannett's number covered five Texas newspapers and was only for 2016.  The news organization shared no historical data. 

Update 5-3-20:  Gannet put the Standard Times' building up for sale.  The paper employed 150 people in 1950.  It now employs roughly 20 full time employees.

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