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Wings Over Scotland

The Big Secrets 119

Posted on March 01, 2021 by

After this morning’s mini stats post, quite a few people have asked in the comments if there’s any means of comparison between Wings and mainstream media outlets. And the shortest answer is no. The Scottish press is terribly coy about its online readership, offering almost nothing by way of verified figures.

(For a meaningful comparison it would also be necessary to separate out their politics coverage from general news, sport and everything else, which they’ve never done.)

But what used to be possible was at least comparing their print sales, via the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures that newspapers published monthly (for national media) or six-monthly (for supposedly “regional” papers like the Herald and Scotsman), which we kept a record of in our Reference section.

When we went to look at the page today we noticed we hadn’t updated it in just over a year, and figured it could do with a dusting and sprucing. But we were in for a surprise.

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The Slide 239

Posted on October 07, 2018 by

Especially alert readers may have noticed that we’ve had a new page on Wings for a while, maintaining a current list of Scottish newspaper circulations.

We were just checking it today and noticed that – seemingly unreported anywhere – the Scottish “regionals” had had their biannual figures published, so we thought we may as well keep you updated.

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The Helter-Skelter 146

Posted on August 16, 2018 by

One of the first posts we ever wrote on Wings Over Scotland, back in November 2011, recorded the fact that total daily sales of newspapers in Scotland had dipped below a million for the first time ever (to a total of 986,657).

The six-and-a-half years that have followed have been probably the most tumultuous in Scottish history – an independence referendum, a Brexit referendum and the death of Rangers, to name but three of the significant events that have taken place in just two-thirds of a single decade.

At the very least, then, you’d imagine that the period might have given the declining newspaper industry one last dead cat bounce.

The like-for-like sales total of the same newspapers today is 492,353.

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The seven-year ditch 266

Posted on February 15, 2018 by

Presented without comment, covering a period of THREE major national referendums, EIGHT elections (UK, Scottish, EU, council) and of course the death of Rangers.

What we’re saying is, it’s not like there wasn’t any news.

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

At home with the Kardashians 209

Posted on August 25, 2016 by

The new January-June 2016 sales figures for “regional” Scottish newspapers:

Aberdeen Evening Express: 27,441 copies per day (-11.3% vs Jan-Jun 2015)
Dundee Courier: 41,243 (-8.5%)
Dundee Evening Telegraph: 16,354 (-9.5%)
Edinburgh Evening News: 20,235 (-14.1%)
Glasgow Evening Times: 25,679 (-14.3%)
The Herald: 30,402 (-11.6%)
Paisley Daily Express: 4,986 (-7.4%)
The Press & Journal: 54,270 (-7.2%)
Scotland On Sunday: 19,059 (-21.1%)
The Scotsman: 20,304 (-14.6%)
Sunday Herald: 21,613 (-25.5%)

Posted without comment.

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The sands of the times 265

Posted on February 24, 2016 by

Newspaper sales figures in Scotland now come out in a patchy and unco-ordinated sort of way, with different frequencies and at different times of year, so we thought it’d be worth collecting them together for easy reference.


The numbers below are the most recent figures for each title that we know of – for papers classed as “national” that means November last year, and for those counted as “regional” (which includes the Scotsman and Herald titles) it’s this month.

Figures have all been rounded to the nearest 100, and increase/decrease stats refer in all cases to the corresponding sales for one year previously.

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In with a bullet 186

Posted on December 08, 2014 by

The latest sales figures for newspapers in Scotland are out today, most of them showing the now-traditional hefty year-on-year declines. (The Scottish Daily Express was the biggest loser, shedding a hefty 14% of its readership in the last 12 months, with the Guardian, Daily Mirror and Daily Record close behind.)


What the stats throw into striking relief, though, is the pent-up demand for a Yes-supporting paper. Despite having been created in just three weeks on a shoestring budget and not being distributed by some of the biggest supermarket chains, The National – on the worst day so far recorded for its sales – would nevertheless crash straight into the chart in seventh place, already neck-and-neck with its 231-year-old sister paper The Herald and just a few thousand behind the Star and the Express.

The full ordered table is below.

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And now, a short film 174

Posted on August 28, 2013 by

…about the sales figures of “regional” Scottish newspapers, released today:

Numbers (for Jan-June 2013, compared to the same period in 2012) are below.

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Hiding your shame 34

Posted on March 13, 2013 by

Over the last 30 days, Wings Over Scotland’s readership has soared to almost 42,000 unique users. Although in February our number of unique visitors eclipsed daily sales of the Scotsman for the first time (and has grown 25% since then), soon we’ll have no idea how we’re doing comparatively, because the once-proud newspaper has now joined the Herald in ducking out of monthly sales reporting. The Guardian reports:

“All four titles were pulled out of monthly reporting against the background of plunging print sales. In The Scotsman’s case, its sale in January was recorded as 32,435, only 21,806 of which were sold at the full cover price. That represented a year-on-year drop of 17.5%. Scotland of Sunday’s circulation fall, to a January average of 38,493, was worse. That was 24% fewer than in January 2012.”

Tick tock, tick tock.

Reading between the numbers 36

Posted on August 18, 2012 by

By now most of you should have seen the latest circulation figures for newspapers in Scotland. As you’ll know, though, Wings Over Scotland likes to delve around below the headlines when it comes to stats, so we’ve had our own rummage, done a little data-bashing and come up with a few hopefully-interesting findings.

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Didn’t read the news today, oh boy 0

Posted on November 12, 2011 by

The latest Scottish circulation figures for UK print media are out, and perhaps to nobody’s great surprise they show a continuing sharp decline, as well as the breaking of a significant barrier – for the first time, total daily sales of newspapers in Scotland have slumped below a million, at 986,657 (down from 1,078,544 in the previous period).

The Herald and Scotsman both show heavy falls (13.2% and 8.3% respectively), and while the Herald still holds a clear lead over its broadsheet rival the gap has closed slightly, from 11,000 to 8000. The story is different for the Sunday versions, with the Sunday Herald (which underwent a dramatic format change during the period, from a traditional paper to a magazine-style offering) losing a whopping 31% (down to just 29,000), while Scotland On Sunday lost a more modest 9%, down to 46,000, doubling its lead over its rival from 9000 to 18,000.

Over in tabloid territory things are much the same, with the Daily Record dropping 9%, losing further ground to the Scottish Sun which dropped just 6% and now leads its once-dominant rival by a hefty 47,000 copies a day. (More than the entire daily circulation of the Herald.)

There are falls across the board (the bizarre Scotophobia of the Independent now finds just 7,000 daily takers north of the border), with one exception – the closure of the News Of The World has seen huge jumps for most of the tabloid Sundays. The People leaps 85%, the Sunday Mirror 83% and the Star more than doubles its sales, with a 120% boost taking it past both SoS and the Sunday Herald to just under 60,000.

Perhaps the most interesting thing, though, is that the traditional Sunday tabloids of choice in Scotland – the Sunday Post and the Sunday Mail – see nothing of this benefit. The Mail picks up just 3%, and the Post actually manages to drop 1% despite the loss of their major tabloid competition.

However, the big two now comfortably outsell everything else put together (587,000 for the Mail and Post combined, versus 441,000 for the other 11 titles), because many of the NOTW’s readers haven’t moved anywhere else but have simply stopped buying a Sunday paper entirely (or are buying one fewer) – of around 240,000 people who used to buy it, increases in the other Sundays amount to only 70,000 or so, a huge loss to the overall sector of 170,000 sales a week.

The oddest anomaly remains the performance of the two Daily Mail titles, which both fall but narrowly stay above six figures, and outsell their respective daily and Sunday equivalents on the Herald and Scotsman added together. This perhaps tells us more about the Mail’s true position on the tabloid-broadsheet spectrum than anything more significant, but it’s still a jarring statistic in a Tory-hostile nation.

What political conclusions can we draw from this? In the absence of website readership figures, perhaps not many. But it seems clear that the attention of the Scottish public is being drawn increasingly away from printed media and towards the internet. That’s an area where the nationalists have several years of a head start in terms of presence – the online communities of even staunchly Unionist papers like the Scotsman and Record are dominated by the pro-SNP camp – and it’ll be interesting to see if the opposition can do anything to catch up.

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