Circulation of Straits Times hits all-time high

SINGAPORE - The Straits Times has seen its circulation hit an all-time high of 410,000, helped by fresh digital subscriptions.

At the end of its financial year last August, the national broadsheet had an average daily print circulation of 326,000, and 84,000 digital subscriptions. The number of digital subscriptions has since risen above 100,000.

These results reflect how a digital pricing strategy has paid off for media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), with the daily circulation of The Business Times (BT) also reaching a new high.

BT had an average daily circulation of 37,000 as of last August, with 31,000 print copies sold and 6,000 digital subscriptions.

Mr Patrick Daniel, editor-inchief of SPH's English and Malay Newspapers Division, said the challenge for SPH newsrooms, moving forward, is how to further monetise its content and transform its culture to adapt to changing industry realities.

Speaking before the division's annual editorial awards ceremony, Mr Daniel said the new highs in readership are heartening.

"Digital growth has more than offset our print circulation decline," he said. "Our multi-platform readership is now growing."

Another good sign: Demand for news has not abated, he added. "The relentless flow of newsbreaks in the last year has shown once again that the appetite for news is undiminished. Each time there is a big breaking story, whether it's the Little India riot or the Kovan murder, our sales spike.

"Some of our critics say that's all we are after - selling more newspapers. But there's no need for us to be apologetic - our job is to serve our readers, by giving them news and views they want to read, that they can't do without," said Mr Daniel.

To grow the core media business further, SPH newspapers will work with its marketing and digital divisions to boost print and digital yields, and harness opportunities from brand extensions including events such as the Shape Run.

SPH will also incubate new ideas from within, Mr Daniel said.

The right balance must be struck between print and digital, and each newsroom has to focus on what is important to its readers, he said. "Quality content is still key. We must give readers and users value for money, and maintain high journalistic standards."

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