by Herman Manson (@marklives) The Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa has released circulation statistics for the period October 2013 — December 2013 (ABC Q4 2013).

Most newspaper circulations are down slightly. As a category, daily newspapers saw an increase only because the ABC moved The Times into this category. If it hadn’t, the category would have shown a decline — as, in fact, The Times did.

Paid-for newspapers are down, although the circulation falls don’t seem to be severe in most cases. A couple of hundred copies here, a couple of thousand there, but they do add up. The tabloids really aren’t doing well — the economy is biting and belts are being tightened all round — especially in communities where the tabloids find their primary market. Son fell to 86,837 from 96,598, Daily Sun fell sharply to 297,614 from 322,324, Sunday Sun fell to 177,257 from 184,417 and Sunday World to 116,659 from 130,656.


On the upside, it’s good to see The Herald holding the line, and even increasing its circulation somewhat. Some of the vernacular titles continue to show positive growth (maybe this will also change when people can get their news for free on their mobiles in the language of their choice!). The Mail & Guardian grew nicely to 51,551 from 48,999.

Into the breach left by the crumbling paid-for circulation steps the freesheets, up to an impressive 6,738,314 copies from 6,137,501 in the corresponding previous reporting period, thanks mainly to new entrants into the market.

Note: we compare the current figures with the same figures for this time last year, and not with the previous quarter.

For magazine circulation figures, click here.

ABC member circulation totals:

Daily Newspapers: up to 1,600,667 from 1,534,519 for the previous corresponding period
Weekly papers: down to 632,934 from 666,129
Weekend papers: down to 2,100,272 2,274,906
Local papers: down to 421,344 from 436,192
‘Hybrid’ papers: down to 22,497 162,722
Free papers: up to 6,738,314 from 6,137,501

Daily papers

The Times has been moved from the Hybrid to the Daily category in the latest ABC results. This is the reason that the category shows blue (growth), even as most of the daily papers show a decline in circulation (red). MarkLives has always included The Times in our round-up for Dailies so it doesn’t affect our ranking below.

Among Gauteng-based dailies, Beeld falls to 64,874 from 66,132 and Sowetan to 99,236 from 100,349. The Citizen falls to 58,735 from 64,627 and The Star falls to 100,898 from 102,244. Pretoria News is down slightly to 17,243 from 17,576.

In the Eastern Cape, Die Burger falls to 10,018 from 10,795 and the Daily Dispatch falls to 25,521 from 26,339. The Herald grows slightly to 22,621 from 22,079.

In the Western Cape, Die Burger falls to 50,494 from 51,022. The Cape Argus falls to 30,204 from 32,337 while sister paper The Cape Times falls to 32,611 from 34,627. Son falls to 86,837 from 96,598. Free State daily Die Volksblad is down to 20,456 from 21,446.

In KZN Daily News falls to 28,881 from 30,743 and The Mercury is down slightly to 29,010 from 29,761. Isolezwe jumps to 107,119 from 106,858. The Witness falls to 17,549 from 18,804.

Business Day falls to 33,667 from 35,149. Daily Sun falls sharply to 297,614 from 322,324. The Times sits at 142,523 — down from 146,956.

MarkLives Big Daily Newspaper List*

  1. Daily Sun 297,614
  2. The Times 142,523
  3. Isolezwe 107,119
  4. The Star 100,898
  5. Sowetan 99,236
  6. Son 86,837
  7. Beeld 64,874
  8. Die Burger 60,512 (combined Eastern and Western Cape editions) +1
  9. The Citizen 58,735 -1
  10. Business Day 33,667 [new entry]

The Cape Times fell out of our Top 10.

Weekly & Weekend papers

City PressOn the weekly front, Ilanga falls to 95,994 from 118,584 but the Mail & Guardian grows to 51,551 from 48,999. Soccer Laduma  declines to 307,275 from 311,774.

In terms of the weekend papers, Beeld‘s Saturday edition falls to 58,411 from 63,962 and Die Burger (Eastern & Western Cape editions) declines to 75,853 from 76,805. The Citizen (Saturday) falls to 34,498 from 36,650. The Saturday Star falls to 73,487 from 75,089.

City Press falls to 124,418 from 126,400, Rapport falls to 187,288 from 213,460. The Sunday Times sees a steep decline to 411,186 from 449,799. The Sunday Independent declines to 33,966 from 35,263. Son op Sondag falls to 54,625 from 56,927 while Sondag has been discontinued. Sunday Sun falls to 177,257 from 184,417 and Sunday World to 116,659 from 130,656.

Ilanga Langesonto falls to 56,074 from 64,344. Isolezwe ngeSonto grows to 88,026 from 87,175 and Isolezwe ngoMgqibelo grows to 82,339 from 73,448. Sunday Tribune falls to 68,277 from 71,675. Weekend Argus is down to 55,121 from 60,383. The Post falls to 43,975 from 44,683.

MarkLives Biggest Circulation per issue Newspaper List*

  1. Sunday Times 411,186
  2. Soccer Laduma 307,275
  3. Daily Sun 297,614
  4. Rapport 187,288
  5. Sunday Sun 177,257
  6. The Times 142,523
  7. City Press 124,418
  8. Sunday World 116,659
  9. Isolezwe 107,119
  10. The Star 100,898

Sowetan 99,236
Ilanga 95,994

** ABC considers The Times a hybrid (paid-for and free to subscribers of The Sunday Times) newspaper.
* South African titles only. Must have cover price. Excludes free papers.

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Published by Herman Manson is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter -

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