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UK National Newspapers market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the National Newspapers market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Products covered in this Report

For the purposes of this Report, national newspapers are defined as those newspapers that are circulated throughout the UK (United Kingdom) and their digital operations. In most respects this Report adheres to ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) practice when determining which newspapers are national.

The term ‘circulation’ refers to the number of copies of a print newspaper that are sold or delivered to consumers.

The Report uses the ABC classifications of Popular, Mid-market and Quality throughout.

Currently, as monitored by ABC, the three sectors include the following titles:

  • Popular: Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Record, The Sun, The Sun on Sunday, Daily Star Sunday, Sunday People, Sunday Mail, Sunday Mirror.
  • Mid-market: Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Mail on Sunday, Sunday Express, The Sunday Post.
  • Quality: The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent, i, The Times, Independent on Sunday, The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, iWeekend.

Mintel classifies the London Evening Standard as a regional, while the Metro titles are also classified as regionals.

Specialist national sports papers such as the Racing Post are excluded.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Rebecca McGrath, a leading analyst in the Media sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Changes to Facebook’s News Feed present both problems and opportunities for newspaper publishers. It highlights the need to diversify across platforms to not become reliant on any particularly source for traffic. Some newspapers, however, could gain more prominence on the social network as Facebook takes a more active role in promoting trustworthy sources. Rebecca McGrath
Senior Media Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Print circulation falls by 10% in 2018
              • Figure 1: Trend in total annual UK print national newspaper circulation, 2013-23
            • Newspapers express concern for freedom of the press after Cliff Richard BBC ruling
              • The government explores options for helping UK newspapers in Cairncross Review
                • Key players
                  • MailOnline’s 15% browser drop blamed on Facebook’s News Feed algorithm change
                    • Trinity Mirror acquires Express and Star titles and rebrands as Reach
                      • Joint newspaper advertising scheme expands further
                        • The Independent introduces partial paywall
                          • The consumer
                            • Growing use of delivery apps presents opportunity for more newspaper deliveries
                              • Figure 2: Purchasing print newspapers, October 2018
                            • Younger people are purchasing newspapers in more varied locations
                              • Figure 3: Locations print newspapers are purchased, October 2018
                            • The FT looks to diversify appeal
                              • Figure 4: Online news sources, October 2018
                            • Lifestyle and sport are the content topics people are most willing to pay for
                              • Figure 5: Willingness to pay for newspaper content, October 2018
                            • The Sun is the least trusted national newspaper
                              • Figure 6: Perception of national newspapers, October 2018
                            • National newspapers explore subscription options as younger people show greater willingness to pay for online news
                              • Figure 7: National newspaper behaviour, October 2018
                            • High interest in news updates on voice activation services indicates significant investment will be worthwhile
                              • Figure 8: Attitudes towards national newspapers, October 2018
                            • What we think
                            • Issues and Insights

                              • Investing in sophisticated voice activation content will prove worthwhile
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                    • National newspapers should introduce more tiered subscription options
                                      • The facts
                                        • The implications
                                        • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                          • Print circulation falls by 10% in 2018
                                            • Many more cover price increases implemented at newspapers
                                              • Newspapers express concern for freedom of the press after Cliff Richard BBC ruling
                                                • The government explores options for helping UK newspapers in Cairncross Review
                                                  • Publishers and Google negotiate over new GDPR policies
                                                    • Footballer Raheem Sterling puts scrutiny on national newspaper sports reporting
                                                    • Market Size and Forecast

                                                      • Print circulation falls by 10% in 2018
                                                        • Figure 9: Trend in total annual UK print national newspaper circulation, 2013-23
                                                        • Figure 10: Trend in total annual UK print national newspaper circulation, 2013-23
                                                      • Note
                                                        • Forecast methodology
                                                        • Market Drivers

                                                          • Many more cover price increases implemented at newspapers
                                                            • Figure 11: Basic UK cover prices for national newspapers, December 2017 and 2018
                                                          • Newspapers express concern for freedom of the press after Cliff Richard BBC ruling
                                                            • The government explores options for helping UK newspapers in Cairncross Review
                                                              • Publishers and Google negotiate over new GDPR policies
                                                                • Footballer Raheem Sterling puts scrutiny on national newspaper sports reporting
                                                                • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                  • Consistent declines across newspaper sectors
                                                                    • MailOnline’s 15% browser drop blamed on Facebook’s News Feed algorithm change
                                                                      • Trinity Mirror acquires Express and Star titles and rebrands as Reach
                                                                        • The Guardian works its way towards a sustainable model
                                                                          • New editor could see Daily Mail changing its tone
                                                                            • Joint newspaper advertising scheme expands further
                                                                              • The Independent introduces partial paywall
                                                                                • Publishers invest in audio journalism
                                                                                  • The Guardian and Times inspire greatest levels of trust
                                                                                  • Market Share

                                                                                    • Consistent declines across newspaper sectors
                                                                                      • Figure 12: Daily national newspapers’ average print circulation per issue, 2016-18
                                                                                      • Figure 13: Sunday national newspapers’ average print circulation per issue, 2016-18
                                                                                    • MailOnline’s 15% browser drop blamed on Facebook’s News Feed algorithm change
                                                                                      • Figure 14: Average daily unique visits to national newspaper websites, 2016-18
                                                                                    • Trinity Mirror acquires Express and Star titles and rebrands as Reach
                                                                                      • The Guardian works its way towards a sustainable model
                                                                                        • New editor could see Daily Mail changing its tone
                                                                                          • Digital revenue overtakes print at the Mail
                                                                                            • Instagram an underexplored platform for newspaper publishers
                                                                                              • Figure 15: National newspapers’ social media followings, January 2018-19
                                                                                          • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                            • Joint newspaper advertising schemes expands further
                                                                                              • More subscription options introduced
                                                                                                • The Independent introduces partial paywall
                                                                                                  • The Guardian launches subscription tier based on user experience rather than exclusive content
                                                                                                    • The New European introduces micro-paywall
                                                                                                      • Publishers invest in audio journalism
                                                                                                        • The FT creates interactive audio experience for Google Assistant
                                                                                                          • The Guardian launches Voice Lab
                                                                                                            • The Guardian also continues investment in documentaries
                                                                                                              • The Times updates comments section
                                                                                                                • The i begins incorporating Economist articles
                                                                                                                • Brand Research

                                                                                                                    • Brand map
                                                                                                                      • Figure 16: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, January 2019
                                                                                                                    • Key brand metrics
                                                                                                                      • Figure 17: Key metrics for selected brands, January 2019
                                                                                                                    • Brand attitudes: The i stands out for innovation
                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Attitudes, by brand, January 2019
                                                                                                                    • Brand personality: The Guardian is viewed as the most ethical
                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Brand personality – Macro image, January 2019
                                                                                                                    • The Daily Star is considered the most low-brow
                                                                                                                      • Figure 20: Brand personality – Micro image, January 2019
                                                                                                                    • Brand analysis
                                                                                                                      • The Guardian is considered more innovative than quality rivals
                                                                                                                        • Figure 21: User profile of The Guardian, January 2019
                                                                                                                      • The Times is viewed as the most authoritative newspaper
                                                                                                                        • Figure 22: User profile of The Times, January 2019
                                                                                                                      • The i falls behind other quality newspapers in perception of intelligence
                                                                                                                        • Figure 23: User profile of the i, January 2019
                                                                                                                      • The Daily Telegraph has a weaker brand image than the Times
                                                                                                                        • Figure 24: User profile of The Daily Telegraph, January 2019
                                                                                                                      • The Daily Mail leaves a surprisingly weak impression
                                                                                                                        • Figure 25: User profile of Daily Mail, January 2019
                                                                                                                      • The Daily Mirror is viewed slightly more positively than the Star
                                                                                                                        • Figure 26: User profile of Daily Mirror, January 2019
                                                                                                                      • The Sun has strong positive and negative associations
                                                                                                                        • Figure 27: User profile of The Sun, January 2019
                                                                                                                      • The Daily Star has the most negative brand image
                                                                                                                        • Figure 28: User profile of Daily Star, January 2019
                                                                                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                      • Environmental concerns put more pressure on print
                                                                                                                        • Younger people are having newspapers delivered
                                                                                                                          • Half of people visit national newspapers via smartphones
                                                                                                                            • Lifestyle and sport are the content topics people are most willing to pay for
                                                                                                                              • The Sun is the least trusted national newspaper
                                                                                                                                • National newspapers explore subscription options as younger people show greater willingness to pay for online news
                                                                                                                                  • High interest in news updates on voice activation services indicate significant investment will be worthwhile
                                                                                                                                  • Print Newspaper Purchases

                                                                                                                                    • Environmental concerns put more pressure on print
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Print national newspaper purchases, October 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Growing use of delivery apps presents opportunity for more newspaper deliveries
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Purchasing print newspapers, October 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Younger people are purchasing newspapers in more varied locations
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Locations print newspapers are purchased, October 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Online National News and Devices

                                                                                                                                    • Half of people access national news via smartphones
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 32: Devices used for national news, October 2018
                                                                                                                                    • The FT looks to diversify appeal
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Online news sources, October 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Willingness to Pay for Newspaper Content

                                                                                                                                    • Lifestyle and sport are the content topics people are most willing to pay for
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Willingness to pay for newspaper content, October 2018
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Willingness to pay for newspaper content, by gender, October 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Technology/science could be a good way to attract younger subscribers
                                                                                                                                    • Perception of National Newspapers

                                                                                                                                      • The Sun is the least trusted national newspaper
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 36: Perception of national newspapers, October 2018
                                                                                                                                    • National Newspapers – Qualitative Research

                                                                                                                                        • The Sun
                                                                                                                                          • Guardian
                                                                                                                                            • Daily Mail
                                                                                                                                              • Financial Times
                                                                                                                                                • The Times
                                                                                                                                                  • i
                                                                                                                                                    • Telegraph
                                                                                                                                                    • National Newspaper Behaviour

                                                                                                                                                      • Comment sections are an important aspect of national newspapers
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 37: National newspaper behaviour, October 2018
                                                                                                                                                      • National newspapers explore subscription options as younger people show greater willingness to pay for online news
                                                                                                                                                        • More than one in four online newspaper readers are registered with a title
                                                                                                                                                          • The popularity of podcasts highlights the growing importance of audio news
                                                                                                                                                          • Attitudes towards National Newspapers

                                                                                                                                                            • People are sceptical of headlines
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 38: Attitudes towards national newspapers, October 2018
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 39: Attitudes towards national newspapers, by age, October 2018
                                                                                                                                                            • High interest in news updates on voice activation services indicate significant investment will be worthwhile
                                                                                                                                                              • Nearly half believe social media networks should support national newspapers
                                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                    • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                      • Market forecast
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Total UK annual print circulation, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                                                      • Forecast methodology