MidWeek topples Sunday Advertiser as king of Oahu readership
But other data show MidWeek did not beat Advertiser
MidWeek has become the most widely read publication on Oahu, dethroning the Sunday Honolulu Advertiser, according to a newspaper readership survey by SMS Research & Marketing Services Inc.
MidWeek's two weekly editions are read by 435,678 Oahu adults, 18 and older, versus the Sunday Advertiser at 413,731. The second MidWeek began rolling off the presses and into mailboxes in March of last year.
The surveys are conducted in the first quarter of the year -- but SMS President Hersh Singer said he doubts there was enough time last year for the second MidWeek to factor into the 2005 figure.
MidWeek had 382,829 readers in 2004, when it had one issue a week. Its readership increased 10.5 percent to 423,083 in 2005 and another 3 percent this year.
Readership measures actual reading of the newspaper versus circulation, which is based on paid distribution.
"In the print marketplace, the Sunday Advertiser has always been the lead dog," said Dennis Francis, president of Oahu Publications Inc., parent company of MidWeek and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, of which he is also publisher. Surpassing its readership is "significant," he said.
"It clearly makes us the market leader, not only in readership of MidWeek itself, but ... when you combine the daily and Sunday Star-Bulletin and MidWeek from the ad-buy standpoint."
Francis said he was not surprised about MidWeek's new lead, since the last publisher's statement from the Advertiser had its Sunday circulation at 158,000. "That's a franchise low for them," he said. Francis previously was general manager of the Advertiser, owned by McLean, Va.-based Gannett Co., until he joined the Star-Bulletin in 2004.
The SMS survey has been done annually for decades, said David Kennedy, vice president of marketing for the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek. "We only subscribe to his service, we did not commission (it)," Kennedy said.
SMS uses "nationally approved media question formats," said Singer. Individual respondents are asked if they looked into or read any part of a specific publication in the past week. The survey is "very tight and concise in terms of our readership questions," he said. Online readership is not included in the figures used for this story.
The report was released in mid-July.
Mike Fisch, president and publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, discounted the research, noting that his paper discontinued its subscription to SMS before his arrival about a decade ago.
"Since it's a single-market study, we don't find it terribly reliable or credible," he said. "The industry standard is Scarborough, which I think will contradict this data."
Indeed, Scarborough Research data provided by Fisch shows MidWeek readership at 354,126 versus the the Sunday Advertiser's 430,160 and the Sunday Star-Bulletin's 151,855.
According to Scarborough, the Advertiser's Monday-through-Friday editions had readership of 338,992 versus 143,490 for the Star-Bulletin's Monday-through-Friday editions. The Scarborough information is as of September 2005.
New York-based Scarborough Research produces data that Fisch says is validated by the Audit Bureau of Circulations in Illinois. ABC audits circulation reports from member newspapers for dissemination to its members, advertising agencies and other organizations that buy the data. The Star-Bulletin does not participate with ABC.
ABC's most recent figures show the Advertiser's paid daily circulation at 143,271 and the Sunday Advertiser's circulation at 162,388 for the 12-month period that ended March 27, 2005.
Fisch pointed out that there are two editions of MidWeek each week versus one Sunday Advertiser, increasing the likelihood that an SMS poll respondent would have looked at a MidWeek.
Francis noted that both daily papers are published six days a week, Monday through Saturday, providing six opportunities for readership, versus two or one. Nevertheless, the daily figures are smaller than numbers for the twice-a-week MidWeek and the Sunday papers.
Readership of the Star-Bulletin's Sunday and daily readership dipped in 2006, Francis conceded, "but we were frankly expecting it to decline slightly based on last year's growth."
Last year, the daily Star-Bulletin's readership grew 13 percent while Sunday readership was up 24 percent, so over the last two years, the paper's daily readership increased 6.9 percent while Sunday readership rose 13 percent.
"If Joe DiMaggio batted .400 one year and the next, he did .380," you wouldn't say he did poorly, Francis said.
The Star-Bulletin's Sunday edition is still a relatively new publication, rolling off the presses under Oahu Publications ownership in April 2001. At the time, the paper struggled to lure national advertising inserts.
"We currently carry the same level of national coupon advertising as the Advertiser does," Francis said. "When you're selling for a dollar less a copy, and you have similar value, you start to see those kinds of results."
MidWeek is 22 years old, according to Ron Nagasawa, publisher of MidWeek and senior vice president of Oahu Publications.
"MidWeek is the people's paper. They look forward to it. It's all good news and good events mixed in with a little bit of fun -- things people want to read about, style, restaurants, food, politics, you name it, we've got it."
Adding a second MidWeek expanded the demographic appeal of the publication for readers and advertisers, "and we've got testimony after testimony on how advertising in those vehicles has really changed their marketing plans," Nagasawa said.