28 June 2012 -

- smh.com.au is the #1 news and current affairs website in Australia for the second month running
- Product innovation drives record SMH iPhone app usage
- Fairfax Metro Media mastheads continue to show strong organic growth, and are the clear market leaders in the mobile news category
- Metro Media mobile sites surpassed 40 million page views a month for the first time
- Further investment in core print products

Fairfax Media's Metro Media division today published its monthly Fairfax Metro Media Audience Report (FMMAR) for May.

This is the fourth publication of a monthly FMMAR since the launch of this comprehensive overview of audience measurement across mastheads and platforms in early 2012.

Commenting on the Audience Report for May, Metro Media chief executive Jack Matthews said:
"This Audience Report shows that our strategy continues to deliver results. Nationally, more than 4.6 million people now access a Fairfax Metro Media news website each month and smh.com.au has consolidated its position as the leading news and current affairs website in the country.

"Last week Fairfax Media announced a range of initiatives that will deliver fundamental change across the print and digital sides of the business in coming months. Major advances include the transition to a 'compact' format for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and the development of digital subscriptions for these mastheads.

"A major part of the strategy in the move to 'compact' will see further investment and even greater focus in our core print products of Monday-Friday, Saturday and Sunday editions.

"The audience figures announced today confirms that our digital audience continues to grow, while our print audience remains loyal to our mastheads. This provides a strong foundation as we progress on the journey from print to digital," he said.

"We are proud of our digital-led focus, but it is important to note that we will sustain and protect our respected print products, ensure they serve our audiences well, and invest in product development of our print mastheads wherever necessary."

Product innovation has been a feature of the Metro Media business in recent years, a tradition which continued this month with the launch of AirLink by The Sydney Morning Herald on May 18. AirLink provides a revolutionary bridge between the printed paper and the rich digital content offered on the iPhone.

Commenting on the early success of AirLink, Jack Matthews said: "It's early days, but AirLink has generated almost 20,000 video views since it was launched – with popular clips featuring the State of Origin and the Mabo legacy. The capabilities of this product will be shown to full effect when the London Olympics kick off in July."

Previous editions of this report have highlighted aspects of Metro Media's focus on sustainable, profitable print circulation which is reflected in lower print volumes as the business focuses on paid sales with higher revenue yields.

This has led to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reducing or ending newspaper offers at community events, schools, universities, gyms and other bundled sales. This strategy is in contrast to Metro Media's print competitors who continue to pursue high volumes of sample and free copies to inflate circulation figures, while Metro Media is targeting highly-engaged readers that are most attractive to advertisers.

Cover price increases introduced on 22 April at The Sydney Morning Herald on weekdays and The Sun-Herald are the latest move in Metro Media's focus on profitable print circulation. The Sun-Herald is now priced at a 30 cent premium to its rival, yet combined print/digital sales declined by less than 1 per cent from April. Total combined print/digital sales for The Sydney Morning Herald on weekdays increased by 2,638 copies per day from April to May, despite the cover price increasing from $1.50 to $1.70.

In addition to measuring audiences across mastheads and platforms, Fairfax Media also works with research partners to conduct unique research to gain a deeper understanding of how consumers behave across media channels.

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