Fas-Fax: Major Newspapers’ Total Digital Editions Rise 63 Percent

Digital editions of the top 25 newspapers rose 63 percent to 2,169,843 for the six months ending in September, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Fas-Fax tally. For the most part, the numbers reflect newspapers’ and consumers’ relatively new embrace of digital editions across a growing number of mobile devices. While there’s a lot of excitement about these gains newspapers are seeing — at time when print circulation continues to fall — the industry is still a way off from getting digital to offset the declines.

For September, the ABC (NYSE: DIS) counted 475 newspapers with 3.4 million digital replica and non-replica editions, which is about 11 percent of the total circulation. In March, it was 3.1 million replica and non-replica digital editions for 458 newspapers, which was about 10 percent of circ. Both are for weekday newspapers. And remember that September 2010 and 2011 numbers aren’t directly comparable because of the addition of paid/verfied circulation in 2011.

The Wall Street Journal, whose separate European edition is currently being investigated by the ABC UK for allegedly inflating circulation numbers through fraudulent means, continued to lead all other U.S. papers with a total average circulation of 2.1 million, followed by USA Today and the New York Times with 1.78 million and 1.15 million, respectively.

The WSJ was also the lead in digital editions with 537,469 (all “non-replica”) during the six months that ended in September, a rise of 19 percent year-over-year. It was followed by three New York-area papers, with NYT (380,003, with 361,896 non-replicas) at number two, the NY Daily News (165,441, including 136,186 non-replicas), and the Cablevision-owned Newsday (112,486 total and 111,383 non-replicas). The WSJ’s News Corp. (NSDQ: NWS) sibling, the NY Post, was number seven on the ABC’s list. Release