The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area ranks as the 15th-largest media market in the U.S. So how exactly did the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune land in third place nationally for single-copy Sunday sales?
Second-quarter 2019 statistics from the Illinois-based Alliance for Audited Media show the Star Tribune ranking third, trailing only the New York Times and the New York Post for single-copy Sunday sales. That puts it ahead of newspapers in larger cities such as The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, and Philadelphia Inquirer.
“We still sell a heck of a lot of single-copy newspapers. It’s a very good business for us,” says Steve Yaeger, vice-president and CMO for the paper.
AAM’s numbers show an average of 63,339 single-copy sales for the Star Tribune from April to June. According to Yaeger, Star Tribune Sunday circulation is approximately 375,000; daily circulation is about 250,000. That means that roughly 17 percent of all Sunday sales are single copies.
While traditional newsstands are few and far between these days, single copies of the paper are available at gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, and coin-operated newspaper boxes. Yaeger adds that many single-copy sales come from outstate.
The Star Tribune doesn’t rank as high for single-copy weekday sales, but it still comes in a respectable seventh. “The single-copy number is an impressive number,” says Ken Doctor, a media analyst and consultant. Doctor says Star Tribune leadership has invested in keeping the Sunday paper full of material that readers want.
“They have supported the product and believe that the product still has a lot of life in it,” says Doctor, who runs the Newsonomics website. “Many publishers have cut back, and way back, on how much of a product the Sunday paper is … and then it’s a spiral.”
Doctor knows the market well. He worked at the St. Paul Pioneer Press from 1986 to 1997. “In a lot of ways the Twin Cities has been one of the best newspaper markets in the country for a long time,” says Doctor, pointing to metro levels of literacy, education, and affluence. “You have a reading culture.”