Some curves flatten out amidst growth, stabilisation, and decline of distribution figures this quarter.

Publishing in the current financial climate is navigating a dynamic landscape where economic pressure, technological advancements, and shifting consumer behaviours intersect. The digital age challenges traditional publishing models, with online platforms and social media still changing how information is consumed. This quarter sees dynamic digital growth in distribution as publishers steer towards an optimised model to remain relevant and reach audiences.

Local Newspapers appear to lean more towards a hybrid model (the combination of a free and paid model) in the Newspaper Category. The Q2, 2022, Hybrid Newspapers distribution was 74 606, which increased to 89 933 in Q2, 2023. This constitutes a 10% increase in circulation compared to Q1, 2023 and a 20% growth from quarter 2, 2022, to Q2, 2023.

Free Newspapers distribution is still 24% higher than Q2, 2021. However, compared to Q1 2023, we notice a 4% drop in circulation. This quarter’s smallest decline from Q1, 2023 in the Newspaper Category was in Weekly Newspapers. Unfortunately, the Daily, Weekly and Weekend Newspaper distribution dipped this quarter. Compared to Q2, 2021, Weekly and Daily distribution declined by an average of 26%.

Year-on-Year, Free Newspapers distribution exhibits a stable performance with Q2, 2022 distribution being 5 534 590 compared to Q2, 2023 of 5 427 591. Free Newspapers also see a few mergers where 2 or 3 titles become one. This highlights publishers’ challenges and how they find ways to remain relevant.

Overall, the Newspaper category displayed a decline of 3,72% quarter-on-quarter and a decline of 3,73% year-on-year. Our members distributed an overall total of 6 378 511 newspapers this quarter.

In the magazine categories, Consumer Magazines declined by 6% from Q1, 2023 while Custom Magazines had a 2% increase in distribution and B2B with a 3% increase. Free Magazine categories had a decrease of 1%. By far, the expected star of the quarter is Digital Magazines with a 10 484% distribution increase from Q2, 2021, and from 354 544 in Q1, 2023 to 390 538 in Q2, 2023.

Overall circulation across all industries declined by 2,31% from Q1 (9 858 541) to 9 631 192 in Q2, 2023. The overall distribution (across all categories) declined by 5,01% compared to last year, from 10 139 194 to 9 631 192.

Remarkably, publishers are holding on in turbulent financial circumstances where all industries remain under pressure with energy supply and a declining currency. Salute!


We celebrate our three new Grassroots members. It remains vital for our country to support young and upcoming publications and entrepreneurship. Our members benefit from comparability, transparency, consistency and credibility in distribution numbers.

If you are responsible for your brand’s advertising spend, engage with the print, digital and e-mail publications teams you work with, and discuss the ABC membership certificates with them. Align distribution numbers with your strategy. Visit for more information.

Celéste Burger – President – ABC


The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) is a non-profit company. The primary function of the ABC is the certification and provision of accurate and comparable circulation figures of printed (magazines and newspapers) and digital data (digital publications, email newsletter circulation and website traffic) as well as attendance at exhibitions and conferences. This is achieved through auditing standards, on the certificates and on the reports submitted. The ABC’s transparent and accurate data assists advertisers, marketers and publishers in the accountable decision-making of buying and selling of advertising and promotional material.


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