Following the closure of the News of the World in July 2011 there developed a huge gap in the Sunday newspaper market. The News of the World was the best-selling Sunday newspaper in the UK by far; at the time of its closure it had a circulation of 2.7 million (ABC July 2011) and a readership of 7,537,000 (NRS July-Dec 2010), meaning that a large un-serviced audience became available for those in the Sunday newspaper publishing market.
The Sunday tabloid market has reacted; News International (the media group owned by Rupert Murdoch) who owned and as such decided to close the News of the World, due to the phone hacking controversy surrounding the paper, launched the Sun on Sunday on February 27th 2012.
This was a calculated attempt to fill the void and it has been able to pick up a circulation of 2,157,482 (ABC, July 2012), showing that there is still thirst for Sunday print publications and that there may still be an untapped section of the former News of the World readership.
New set ups such as Phoenix Newspaper Publishing are also hoping to make moves into the Sunday print market in order to reach this audience group. The company, set up by former Sunday Express editor Sue Douglas and ex-ITV Executive Rupert Howell have begun negotiations Over the acquisition of either Northern & Shell’s ‘Daily Star Sunday’ or Mirror Group Newspapers’ ‘The People’.
The set up hopes to gain outside funding from ‘high net worth individuals’ in the UK and form a ‘reincarnation of the News of the World’ called ‘The News on Sunday’ a highly transparent attempt to attract the audience of the now defunct former title.
The likely outcomes of these acquisition attempts are mixed; but interest shown in the Daily Star on Sunday is considered the most likely to bring results in a possible £10 million deal.
Phoenix has also made moves to acquire the Independent on Sunday; a deal of this nature is expected to fail, such steps though, suggest an interest in the wider Sunday print market. When this is considered alongside News Internationals continued commitment to the UK print market, even with the huge controversy and cost it has caused the company, it is clear that the print market and especially the Sunday market still hold a draw for investors.
The fall in the circulation and readership of newspapers in the UK is well reported and was highlighted further in July by the news that year on year circulation figures for dailies dropped on average 11%. The fact however that newspaper proprietors and investors are far from abandoning the medium and that the closure of the News of World has created a form of scramble for its readership suggests that there is still confidence in the Sunday print market. As such the longevity and financing of the medium seems more secure than has previously been predicted.