NADbank released its mid-year readership results last week and once again Canadians told us they love their newspapers; nearly 8 in 10 Canadians read a daily newspaper each week. Readership for the 6 largest markets grew slightly over the past six months both for print and Web site products.

Print readership continues to grow at about 2% a year. Web site readership is growing faster, 4% from December 2010 to June 2011. As of June 2011, 9.1 million adults read a printed edition, 2.9 million at the Web site for a total of 9.7 million readers or 77% of the adult population in those markets.

While print audiences keep pace with market growth, it is the Web site readership that continues to increase year-over-year. Canadian newspapers continue to develop their digital offerings in response to changing consumer behaviour and newspapers’ ability to provide news throughout the day. New data on daily newspaper Web sites reach has shown that while many readers migrate between print and Web site editions throughout the week it is on a daily basis that readers are more likely to choose one format over the other.

Daily readership of printed editions for the top 6 markets remains unchanged at 5.8 million readers (46% of adults) however, Web site readership has grown by nearly 10% to 1.4 million readers (11% of adults). Every day 6.5 million adults read a daily newspaper; 51% of adults in these markets.

On both a daily and weekly basis it is the 25- to 49-year-olds who are most likely to read at the Web site whereas those 65 years and older rely most heavily on their printed editions. These young adult readers are essential for maintaining and building newspaper audiences in the future. When outsiders look at newspaper readership and see flat or declining readership of the print product, they are ignoring the changes in how newspapers are consumed today. Digital readers are rarely “Web site only” readers; they migrate between platforms and most view the printed product as the primary channel for their newspaper.

Print readership on a daily basis appears flat, but when yesterday readership at Web sites is added to the print readership (not available until 2010) it adds to total daily reach. Not unexpectedly, the boomers (50+) continue to prefer their printed editions; it is the younger adults who are most likely to head to the Web site when they do not have time or access to their printed newspaper.

Paid dailies continue to dominate the marketplace but free dailies continue to grow in popularity, Metro has recently launched in two new markets bringing their total to 9 markets across Canada. These newspapers are read nearly entirely in print, generally a small percentage of their readers read at the Web site. Canadians continue to prefer the structured newspaper in print; nearly 70% read only a printed newspaper each week.

The table below shows, by market, the solid foundation printed newspapers maintain and the lift that Web sites bring to a thriving information and entertainment hub for readers. These 6 markets represent the largest markets in Canada and while they show strong readership; the smaller markets tend to have even higher readership as their newspapers perform an even more central role in their local community life.

Locally, most markets support a minimum of 4 newspapers: a broadsheet, a tabloid and two national newspapers. In the French markets, newspapers are available in both languages. Free dailies add to the mix. Toronto is the largest market in Canada and boasts 6 daily newspapers; and while all newspapers have exclusive readers, many Torontonians read two or more papers on the average day, and throughout the week.

The strength of newspapers lies in their focus on relevant content and their being available to readers whenever they want their news. As newspapers continue to respond to their readers, Canadians can expect their newspapers to continue to be reliable, timely and an essential part of their daily lives. Advertisers will continue to find daily newspapers an ideal environment to reach Canadians in their homes, at work or just about anywhere! Business as usual……