Latest readership figures are easy on the i

The latest set of National Readership Survey (NRS) results published today (15 February) continues to show the national decline in reading printed newspapers.  However, there is an exception this time round.  The i newspaper recorded a year-on-year increase of 149,000 readers (+32%).  Launched in October 2010, it now has 122,000 more readers on an average day than the Independent (plus a much higher circulation).

Its pricing is interesting.  At 20p it is the cheapest paid-for national daily although you can get it for free at various locations such as boarding aeroplanes.  Its editor, Stefano Hatfield, has stated “If you’d have gone free, in consumers mind [it would have] immediately been up against Metro and we didn’t want to be up against Metro, we wanted to be up against the Guardian, Times, Telegraph.”

It’s not all doom and gloom for the other newspapers.  The NRS also publish PADD (Print And Digital Data) which gives the duplication and net coverage for reading across newspaper (and magazine) print and website platforms.  The nationals are holding up quite well when reach of the whole brand is taken into account.  Furthermore, 7.2m adults (14%) have read a newspaper via a tablet, e-reader or app, which has doubled in the last 12 months.

Newspaper publishers are hopeful that tablets will be saviour for the industry.  On the commute into London, they seem to be everywhere.  The NRS estimates that 25% of adults have used a tablet, which is not insignificant but certainly not the majority.  Furthermore, tablet usage and therefore reading is skewed to London and the South East.  Tablets may well be the saviour one day, but if publishers want salvation then they need to make their mark outside London.

John Carroll is Senior Director in Ipsos MediaCT and Chairman of the Media Research Group (follow John on Twitter @MediaCarroll)