After 10 weeks of publication, Gannett Co.'s new national daily newspaper USA Today has met and nearly doubled its original circulation goals, Gannett Chairman Allen H. Neuharth announced yesterday.
USA Today's paid circulation averaged 362,879 for the week ending Nov. 19, far ahead of Gannett's target of selling 200,000 papers a day by year end, Neuharth said.
Advertising is also substantially ahead of plan, but more than 40 percent of the display ads are being given away free to advertisers who signed long-term contracts committing themselves to advertise in the paper.
USA Today is running an average of 10 pages of ads a day, compared to original projections of five ad pages daily for the last three months of this year and seven pages a day for the first quarter of 1983, the Gannett announcement said.
Produced from a newsroom in Rosslyn, USA Today is transmitted by satellite to printing plants around the country which supply papers to their local market area.
The new circulation figures released yesterday by Gannett show the paper has boosted daily sales by about 140,000 copies since it entered two new market clusters earlier this month.
Circulation was 222,511 for the week ending Oct. 29 based on sales audited by Price Waterhouse & Co., the Gannett announcement said. As of that date USA Today was being sold in five major markets--Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Subsequently, the paper went on sale in the Seattle and Portland areas and in northern California. The 362,000 circulation figure for Nov. 19 includes all those cities, the company said.
About 90 percent of USA Today's circulation is currently single-copy sales from newsstands and vending machines, but "home delivery tests in five selected areas are encouraging and we expect to step up home delivery distribution," the company said.
Gannett said it plans to extend USA Today's circulation into eight more major cities in the first quarter of 1983. Next on the list are Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Philadelphia. Gannett said its goal is to build circulation to 1.15 million by the end of 1983; 2.35 million by the end of 1987.