ANALYSIS - MEDIA TRACK - Phew, what torture! Red-tops feel the squeeze as punters desert them for other media

The UK’s red-top tabloids have had a hard time of it over the last decade. Their sector has stumbled into a seemingly relentless decline in both readers and sales.

The UK’s red-top tabloids have had a hard time of it over the last

decade. Their sector has stumbled into a seemingly relentless decline in

both readers and sales.



At the same time, the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday have shown a

consistent growth in sales and readership at a time when most other

national newspapers are suffering at the hands of new media. The fact

that the only other four nationals to increase their circulations in the

90s were quality broadsheets, shows a palpable shift in the public’s

reading tastes.



The Mirror, The Sun and the Daily Star all noted this trend and began to

edge themselves upmarket. The Mirror and The Sun began to concentrate

more on the quality of its news, while the Daily Star decided to move

away from its ’smutty’ image with a redesign and new masthead.



Despite these moves, the popular tabloid sector remains a waning one

This is partly due to the young demographic profile of the titles’

readers - each of the popular tabloids’ has a readership heavy in the

15- to 34-year-old group. According to NRS figures, the number of 15- to

34-year-olds reading national newspapers declined by 7.2 million or 22.2

per cent between 1995 and 1999. Over the same period, the 35- to

54-year-old audience contracted by just 6.9 per cent.



This loss of young people, as they move towards consumer magazines and,

more recently, the internet, has resulted in the tabloids’ readership

base declining at a faster rate than the national newspaper market as a

whole.



The national newspaper sector experienced a fall of more than two

million copy sales across the last decade, according to ABC data. The

popular tabloids contributed to three-quarters of all sales lost during

this period. The popular sector has shed more than eight million readers

since 1993, while the mid-market and quality market lost only two

million readers each over the same period.





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