The latest newspaper circulation figures are out and they show a 40% drop in circulation numbers over the period of 2005 to 2013. The Republic's numbers fell 37% which is below the average....but the Republic sits in the fastest growing region in the nation, so its penetration has collapsed.
The most shocking statistic in the report is the Digital Subscription category. I think it's fair to say that the Republic's digital figures are into epic fail territory. Here's the link to the full chart and here's the section that includes the Republic.
The column on the left is print subscriptions, the second column is digital subscriptions, column three is the total, then the last three columns are the comparison to last year. My read on this is that a shockingly small number of people have signed up for the digital platform. I've circled the two papers that are closest to the Republic. Notice that the Republic only has 7,000 digital subscribers. Meanwhile, the lowly Honolulu Star Advertiser has 69,000 digital subscribers--leading to a 27.8% increase in circulation. That's the way it's supposed to work. Digital is supposed to open up new markets and increase total penetration and circulation.
Not only has the Republic only gained an anemic 7,000 digital subscribers, but it also did so during a period in which it lost nearly 30,000 print subscribers.
Frankly, this signals that the end is inevitable. Digital subscriptions are growing at a slower pace than print subscriptions are falling. And digital ads command a lower rate than print ads, so even if the Republic coverted all of its readers to a digital format, its resulting revenue wouldn't sustain a fraction of its current cost structure.
Look for management to attempt to maintain profitability by cutting costs faster than revenue falls. This is a classic, cash cow, unwinding, rear guard model. The original plan was to conduct the organized retreat in a maner that allowed for the transition to a dgital platform. That transition has now failed and the new plan will be to simply ride the decline and turn out the lights when it's over. Look for more layoffs, followed by suspension of Monday and Tuesday deliveries. Then the paper will eventually go the way of the Gazette...and Citizen, and Tribune...and the Scottsdale Progress.