This is the fourth month under a new form of measurement, changed to better capture previously under-reported readers on mobile and those under the age of 18, meaning yearly comparisons are not yet possible.
However, the Herald has recorded growth in all of the months recorded under the new method and NewsMediaWorks chief executive Peter Miller said he did not believe the January increase was seasonal.
«Readership was robust, with a healthy appetite for news across the board,» Mr Miller said.
The Age, also owned by Nine, grew its to 4.02 million over the month, marking the narrowest gap under the new measurement compared with News Corp’s third-ranked Herald Sun with 4.15 million readers. Seven’s The West Australian saw audiences above The Australian for the month, with 3.57 million compared to 3.56 million respectively.
Overall, the data found 9.8 million people read metropolitan newspapers over the month, with print and digital news broadly read by 17.4 million. Regional and community newspapers were read by 5.5 million, down from 5.7 million in December.
About 15.7 million people read digital news media, while 11.9 million people read print newspapers with some consuming both. This marks an increase in digital readers over the month, up from 15.6 million in December, and a decline in overall newspaper readership of about 200,000.
The News Media Index, a quarterly measurement, showed improvements in advertising revenue.
«News media continues to command large audiences across platforms. Readers of news media are clearly putting their faith in journalism that appears in trusted news brands,» Mr Miller said in a statement.