Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Comparing Saturday newspapers

Mark Fletcher
March 2nd, 2014 · 11 Comments

Having read all four Saturday newspapers in Melbourne – The Weekend Australian, The Saturday Age, The Saturday Herald Sun and The Saturday Paper – the value of competition is obvious. The three existing Saturday newspapers responded to the arrival of The Saturday Paper by rejigging their offers. The move of The Age to tabloid format is the most significant response – though they will say it was happening regardless.

This weekend, Melbourne is better served by its newspapers as a result of competition. I hope it keeps up.

Now, to the products themselves. I’m not going to comment on The Weekend Australian as it is more a propaganda sheet than newspaper – the media section on Monday is excellent and the weekend magazine insert is excellent … the rest is of little interest to me. Nor will I comment on The Saturday Herald Sun as more fluff than news … yes, it is the best selling newspaper in town.

The Saturday Age looks and feels different in part because of the format change and in part because they are feeling the pressure of the new kid on the block for than others.  The Age is thicker, heavier, feeling like it has more substance. Much of its bulk, however, comes from ads – you certainly notice these when you scan it next to The Saturday Paper which has less advertising, what feels like more meatier stories and is printed on better stock. In fact, this page by page comparison reveals a disruption by smaller format display advertising that reflects a real difference between the two products.

While it is considerably smaller, The Saturday Paper looks and feels more substantial to those who buy a newspaper for stories. This is an important point since this is why we buy newspapers today. The days of purchasing a newspaper on Saturday for car, job and real-estate advertising are over. If you are buying a paper on a Saturday for the classified advertising you’re getting to market too late. So, comparing stories how we must compare these products. The first edition of The Saturday Paper is a terrific start. I appreciate the space given to fully explore stories. I would like to read more voices on a broader selection of issues – as the newspaper develops.

I expect that we will see Fairfax tune its Saturday products in response to The Saturday Paper – just as the new newspaper will tune and adjust as it finds its feet. They will respond to consumer interest in a newspaper because of its stories by focussing more on stories. While they say they do this today, I expect they will find ways to feature stories more through design changes.

A newspaper purchase is not the habit it once was. Now, more than ever, the stories in a newspaper will drive sales. The new competition encourages this.

Yes, print newspapers are alive and competing. Good times.


Category: Media disruption · Newspapers

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Victor isaacs // Mar 2, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    As far as the Australian is concerned, notwithstanding its clear political agenda, it is incomparably, far and away the best newspaper, as far as news coverage and appearance is concerned.

    The Saturday Paper is very good. but it is not a newspaper. it is a serious, weekly magazine.


  • 2 John Kirkham // Mar 3, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Then, what do you call The Economist?


  • 3 h // Mar 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    The same, but $11.00 worth.

    Ya pays for what ya gets.


  • 4 May First // Mar 3, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    How were sales of The Saturday Paper? We sold out by early Sunday morning, retail sales were lower than The Age but better than The Aust or Herald Sun. Of course our local (The Border Mail) smashed all of them but it’s a good start I think.


  • 5 BrettS // Mar 3, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Not what I had hope for. I was wanting a broader appealing Newspaper.
    This is targeting a very niche market that will not do much for profit or traffic as the sales will be minute.
    Having said that I am happy to support any new product from IPS.
    Quality read though I did enjoy it.


  • 6 Brett // Mar 3, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    No issue for Qld eh?

    Qld does not meet the targeted reader?


  • 7 June // Mar 3, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    May First, are you in the SE of SA or in Victoria because if you are in regional SA
    I will be so peeved because we (metropolitan SA) never got the new paper at all.
    I must have said no to 100 people on Saturday and it is galling to have to admit
    to them that we did not get it AT ALL.
    I don’t know what boffins make these decisions but I am sick of being treated like
    a second class citizen because we are in Adelaide.
    The landed gentry????? came to Adelaide to avoid the convict settlements (we don’t have any) so we are all very discriminating
    readers here as opposed to the convicts who couldn’t even read or write so we have the right (write sic) to get the new paper.
    Are you listening at THE SATURDAY PAPER.
    I get Sat age and Sat SMH and Herald Sun early on Saturdays from Toll so why
    would it be too hard to add one more paper.
    You should be embracing newsagents not alienating us.


  • 8 Dean // Mar 3, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    We have over 100 returns for the Saturday paper out of the 130 we received. We are the wrong demographic for this paper.


  • 9 Greg // Mar 3, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    Just log on to IPS online.
    It’s easy


  • 10 Andy // Mar 7, 2014 at 3:33 AM

    I looked all over Melbourne CBD for The Saturday Paper last weekend but couldn’t find it anywhere – does anyone know which newsagents stock it in the city?


  • 11 Brendan // Mar 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Our returns will also be high on the 50 I asked for but I expect it will take a while for sales to strengthen and don’t want to be running out as that happens. We still have last weeks on display and some customers have said they will buy the next one and one customer even prepaid for a copy. Even though this one is a bit old now for them to purchase I am encouraging customers to flick through it so they can determine whether or not to buy the next issue.
    This paper deserves our support and we should assist its establishment as best we can.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reload Image