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A few fair facts on the readership of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age across print and digital

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source January - December 2015, sample n = 50,278 Australians 14+.

Amid news of another round of redundancies in Fairfax’s Sydney and Melbourne editorial departments and talk of stopped presses on weekdays, the publisher’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reach a combined audience of 5,219,000 Australians 14+ (27%) in an average week via print and/or digital, Roy Morgan Readership shows.

4,031,000 people (or 77% of Fairfax’s total cross-platform audience across the two titles) access its content online during the week. Of them, 3,077,000 now only access the mastheads via websites or apps on computers, mobile phones and tablets—representing 59% of the total combined audience of SMH and The Age who don’t touch any print edition from Monday to Sunday.

The converse is that 41% of the audience still reads at least one of these print newspapers during the week—but even among these 2,142,000 print readers nearly half also access the mastheads via digital.

Also up to nearly half is the proportion of the digital audience arriving via a mobile device, whether by visiting the websites or using the apps:  1,876,00 readers access SMH and/or The Age via mobile phone (1,398,000) or tablet (908,000) during the week. The surplus across phone and tablet, of course, is the 430,000 using both devices within the same week—over 10% of the combined digital audience.

Combined audiences of Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source January - December 2015, sample n = 50,278 Australians 14+.

Released on February 4, Roy Morgan’s Newspaper Cross-Platform Audiences for the 12 months to December 2015 showed the Sydney Morning Herald holding steady compared with its 2014 result with an audience of 3,483,000 per average week, but The Age declined 8.9% to 2,303,000.

The excess here over the 5,219,000 combined total is 567,000 Australians who access both mastheads during an average week—also just over 10% of the total combined audience.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Digital has been the predominant channel Australians use to access the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age for a number of years, and it makes sense for Fairfax to focus on the opportunities in this space. These opportunities appear to include further cost- and staff-cutting in editorial—but the more audiences consider digital their primary (or only) access point, the higher their expectations may become of the quality of web and app content.

“These audience results can be examined further through a variety of lenses, whether the aim is to know how many and what types of people read SMH during the week using a mobile phone app and a tablet browser and also the print editions on weekends, what other news apps different audiences have downloaded, or how many print-only readers are planning to buy their first smartphone in 2016.

“For advertisers, Roy Morgan Audiences is the only way to measure (and profile) the real reach and frequency of impressions served to unique audiences, regardless of whether they happen to access the same site using an app sometimes and a browser others, via their mobile phones, tablets and computers.”   

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%