Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Newspapers Pound For Pound

Time: Any day of the week
Place: Vienna Metro, VA
Subject: Title Round For Commuter Newspapers

Stand out in front of the Vienna Metro station during rush hour and you will always see two competing free newspaper hawkers: The Washington Post Express and the Washington Examiner. (Occasionally you can get The Epoch Times if you care for inside China news.)

One is liberal, the other conservative. Both papers are funded solely by advertising.

The Express averages 30 pages during the week and 40 pages for the "Weekend" edition. Most of the Express' articles are reprints from the AP with a smattering of Post articles. From what I can see, it is also read by more people at Vienna. Average number of advertising pages in the middle: 10. Average daily circulation: 183,916.

The Examiner averages 45 pages during the week and about 55 pages for the "Weekend" edition. The Examiner also includes reprints from the AP, but also four pages of commentary. The Examiner is physically 1/7 taller than Express and has a lock on distribution at McPherson Square near the White House. Average number of advertising pages in the middle: 14. Average daily circulation: 93,000.

Since newspapers live and die by advertising, I'd say the Examiner is doing better than Express. I've noticed the thickness of the Express has been shrinking in the last few months.

However, since the Washington Post is a behemoth and enjoys pride of place in Washington, DC, the Express is still widely read and forms the basis of a wide swath of DC commuters' daily news and views. Judged by circulation, the Express is nearly double that of the Examiner.

You get to draw your own conclusions.


Anonymous said...

You got something backwards. By the stats you gave, the Express is trouncing the Examiner.


The Tim said...

Nod's point was that since there were more pages of advertising in the Examiner, the Examiner was doing better.

But in the end, shoe's got a point. Circulation numbers drive advertising rates. At double the circulation, the Express will have a significantly higher ad rate than the Examiner. Purchased ad space then directly drives the amount of news that gets printed to the tune of 60% Ad space to 40% content for the typical Daily (what, you thought what's-actually-happening determines what's in the news?). By the numbers Nod gave, it appears the magic split for these express versions appears to be roughly 33/66 ad-to-content ratio.

At a lower ad rate, the Examiner is probably less affected by advertiser dry-up. The Post Express, meanwhile, has to be willing to let advertisers go (presumably temporarily) in order to protect its ad rate. Once prices slip, they're hard to get back up.

And that was more you ever wanted to know about the newspaper business model.

Nod said...

Excellent analysis boys, thanks.


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