The newspaper portion of the Hawaii Market Study by SMS Research mirrors information found in other recent reports by mainland companies.
By Erika Engle
Hersh Singer, chairman of parent company SMS Inc., claims the study is the most accurate measurement of newspaper readership based on a random survey of 1,700 Oahu adults from Jan. 8, 2002 to April 15.
A dramatically changed readership pattern on Sundays emerged in this survey following the April 2001 introduction of a Sunday edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
"The most interesting challenge for both papers is going to be the Sunday issue," Singer said. He feels both papers "have done very well and I'm looking forward to seeing what the numbers look like a year from now."
The Honolulu Advertiser has an estimated 430,000 readers on Sunday, a loss of about 16,000 from the year-before period. SMS reports the Sunday Star-Bulletin has more than 211,000 readers.
Star-Bulletin Publisher Don Kendall called the Sunday numbers "encouraging."
"Our instinct was that Sunday readership was going up and I think this really verifies it," he said. The SMS and other studies show that Star-Bulletin readership is going up substantially, Kendall said.
During the bulk of the week, the study found the Honolulu Advertiser has 351,000 readers on Oahu, a gain of nearly 9,500 readers from the previous year. The Star-Bulletin, the study says, held its readership at the 2001 level with 195,000 readers.
SMS noted the Audit Bureau of Circulations July 2001 audit, finding that the Advertiser has 2.6 readers per copy, as well as a KPMG circulation report finding that the Star-Bulletin has 3.4 readers per copy.
Advertiser President Mike Fisch gives the ABC reports more credence than readership surveys, which he said reflect "on the part of the Star-Bulletin an incredible amount of duplication due to free newspapers. Our circulation is audited by ABC."
"The Advertiser does not distribute free newspapers. We are a paid circulation daily and that's why we have our circulation audited by ABC," Fisch said.
Kendall countered that subscribers to the Sunday Advertiser are offered the other six days free "and they count that as a paid paper. That's not opinion, that's fact.
"I guess what constitutes a paid paper is paying for one and getting six free," Kendall said.
Singer attributes the overall readership increase to changing local demographics.
"Readership of newspapers has a strong correlation to age and education and wealth," he said. The older, more educated and wealthier an individual, the more likely a person is to read a newspaper.
"Our population in Hawaii is aging more rapidly than we had expected and more rapidly than I think the U.S. population as a whole," Singer said. "I think that's part of the reason we have such good readership numbers."
SMS Research division President Jim Dannemiller has written an article on the topic, which will be posted online Monday at www.smshawaii.com.
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