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Online Readership Surges As More People Read All About It
by Matthew Ricketson, The Age

USE of online news sites has surged by about a third, and total newspaper circulation has fallen slightly, the latest figures show.

The combined websites run by John Fairfax Holdings (owner of The Age) are the most popular. They increased their unique browsers from an average of 2.5 million a month to 3.2 million in the year to June, a rise of 27.2 per cent.

Circulation of most metropolitan newspapers was stable, or fell slightly, but the circulation of The Age rose across all days, the Audit Bureau of Circulations said.

Circulation of The Sunday Age rose 5 per cent, from 200,000 to 210,000. The increase was larger than any other newspaper in Australia.

Circulation of The Age Monday to Friday rose from 193,500 to 201,000, up nearly 4 per cent.

Circulation of the Saturday edition increased from 297,500 to 301,000 copies, up 1.2 per cent.

The news websites of the major media outlets all enjoyed strong growth. But growth has not been wholly at the expense of newspaper circulation, which has been stagnant or slowly falling for many years.

The website of The Age, theage.com.au, had an average of 1.5 million unique browsers a month in the six months to June 30, compared with 1.15 million for the same period last year — a 31.5 per cent spike.

The Sydney Morning Herald website, smh.com.au, jumped from 1.6 million unique browsers a month to 2.1 million, up 30.2 per cent.

Ninemsn.com.au is the second most popular news website. The number of unique browsers a month leapt from 2.1 million to 2.9 million.

News.com.au, the website run by News Limited, attracted 1.3 million unique browsers a month to June 30, compared with 1 million a year ago.

Other ratings figures supplied by Nielsen/NetRatings for last month confirm that Fairfax Digital is the leading news website, followed by Ninemsn and News Limited's combined websites, News Interactive.

News Limited newspapers did not fare well in the ABC's circulation figures.

The Herald Sun retained its position as the highest-selling metropolitan newspaper, but its Monday to Friday circulation fell from 551,500 to 544,700, down 1.2 per cent.

Its Saturday edition's circulation dropped from 523,500 to 522,400, a fall of 0.2 per cent.

Circulation of the Sunday Herald Sun increased from 620,000 to 623,000.

The Australian lost circulation Monday to Friday but gained marginally on its weekend edition.