National newspaper circulation in Sri Lanka continued to grow, reaching higher levels than previously seen in 2016, with a greater preference shown towards daily English and Sinhala newspapers, official government data showed.
According to provisional data in the latest edition of Central Bank’s Economic and Social Statistics publication, 538.82 million newspaper copies were sold in 2016, up from 508.08 million copies in 2015.This is a trend which is going against the global flow, since newspaper circulation in many countries have fallen significantly, as consumers have switched towards alternates such as websites, social media, news apps and digital television, which can provide information faster, to one’s fingertips.
This is a trend which is going against the global flow, since newspaper circulation in many countries have fallen significantly, as consumers have switched towards alternates such as websites, social media, news apps and digital television, which can provide information faster, to one’s fingertips.
Sri Lankans too are increasingly consuming news through these alternative channels as evident from increased registrations in social media and higher usage of internet services.
Newspaper firms too have entered into this sphere in Sri Lanka in order to stay relevant.
What is causing the increased readership of newspapers is not yet clear. However, with the ageing population in Sri Lanka, the increasing elderly population may have more free time to read newspapers.
According to the Central Bank data, the daily newspaper circulation on an annual basis for 2016 had reached up to 411.76 million, from 383.13 million in 2015.
Daily, 62 newspaper copies were circulating among each 1,000 persons, up from 58 copies per 1,000 persons year-on-year (YoY).
The largest circulation boost was seen through Sinhala daily newspapers, which saw 259 million copies in circulation on an annual basis, up from 226.49 million copies in circulation YoY. The figure for English daily newspapers increased to 91.8 million from 80.73 million YoY. Annual circulation numbers for Tamil daily newspapers meanwhile fell to 60.97 million in 2016 from 75.91 million YoY.
Although weekly newspaper circulation on an annual basis increased to 127.06 million from 124.95 million YoY, the number of copies available per 1,000 persons per week remained steady at 115 in both 2015 and 2016. Similar to the daily newspapers, Sinhala and English newspaper circulations were up for the year. Sinhala weekly copies circulated for the year reached 127.06 million from 124.95 million YoY while English weekly copies increased to 24.45 million from 22.49 million YoY.
The Tamil readership base for weekly newspapers faltered as well, with circulation for the year down to 19.32 million from 21.65 million YoY.
Numerous studies conducted in the US and the EU show that newspapers give the highest return on investments for companies advertising across the entire range of media channels.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank data showed that the number of television and radio channels in operation in 2016 fell by 1 each to 24 and 54 channels, respectively. The reach of television and radio channels was not stated.