ANALYSIS: Challenge facing Sunday launches

The death of another Sunday paper shows how hard it is to find new readers in the market, writes Conor Dignam

The death of another Sunday paper shows how hard it is to find new

readers in the market, writes Conor Dignam

Last week Midlands millionaire estate agent Clifford Hards, who had

invested pounds 500,000 in launching The Planet on Sunday, pulled the

plug after just one issue.

Hards claimed the editorial had not lived up to his ambitions. But few

expected the ‘eco-friendly’ title to be a viable proposition, despite

claims that initial sales reached 115,000.

Tom Rubython’s troubled Sunday Business is another recent arrival. Last

week it went into administration to gain a breathing space and sort out

its finances.

The harsh fact for those trying to launch a Sabbath paper is that there

just isn’t the demand. Even when new newspapers arrive, they steal share

rather than grow the market.

Other Sunday launches have tried and failed, including the News on

Sunday (born April 1987, died November 1987) and the Sunday

Correspondent (September 1989 to November 1990). Even without new

competition, existing nationals are having a tough time.

In the six months to May, two papers showed a year-on-year sales rise:

The Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday (see table). Elsewhere, the

picture is gloomier. The News of the World, and the Sunday Express lost

readers. The Sunday Telegraph was down 4% and The Observer slumped

2.27%. The Independent on Sunday, tipped as a possible Sunday casualty,

also lost heavily.

Any new contender in the Sunday sector also has competition from a

strong regional weekly press.

The Sunday Mercury, published by Midland Independent Newspapers and with

a circulation of 144,707, outsells every national Sunday in its region,

with the exception of the News of the World.

Average sales of all Sundays in the six months to May slumped 1.95%

compared with the same period in 1995, down from 15,777,348 to

15,469,132. Even one of the most successful Sunday launches of recent

years, the sex-and-scandal Sunday Sport, is suffering publisher’s droop.

Sales have fallen by 16%.


Never on a Sunday


Paper                 Av sale, 6 months to May 1996    Change %

Mail on Sunday                  2,114,066               +8.26

Sunday Times                    1,289,887               +3.49

News of the World               4,607,189               -3.09

Sunday Mirror                   2,425,328               -4.43

IoS                               306,844               -4.81

Sunday Express                  1,282,654               -9.12



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