Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The State of US Newspapers, Part 2

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) has released its annual report, which provides some details on the state of the US newspaper industry beyond what appeared in the Pew overview report on news media that served as the basis for the previous post.

  The NAA report is a bit more dismal - once correcting for inflation, it notes that newspaper print advertising revenues were lower than any point since the NAA started collecting data in 1950.  As for the more recent trend, print ad revenues in constant dollars fell by nearly 50% in the last four years, and 66% in the last decade.  Even when adding in online ad revenues, earnings from advertising were at the lowest level since 1953.  In terms of total newspaper revenues, digital advertising's share went from 10% in 2011 to 11% in 2012, and circulation revenues' share increased from 26% in 2011 to 27% in 2012.

The NAA report noted that newspapers are starting to exploit a number of supplemental revenue streams:
  • Digital agency and marketing - helping local businesses with digital (including social and mobile) marketing efforts
  • E-commerce and transactions (for themselves, and/or through using their platforms to let local advertisers connect directly with customers)
  • Event marketing - producing events tied to coverage areas as another way of getting information to audiences
  • Commercial delivery of non-newspaper products (fliers, phone books, etc.)
  • Commercial printing revenue - using presses when idle for other print jobs.
 The list is by no means comprehensive - newspapers are continuing to experiment with a number of other potential business activities.  In particular, the current efforts at establishing copyright protections, and copyright enforcement, may signal efforts to increase licensing and royalty revenues.

  NAA data on readership notes that total weekly audience (read a paper or accessed online news at least once a week) fell 2% in 2012.  The NAA has also released a more comprehensive readership study using a non-random sample (which limits generalizability).  Their study confirmed that older, more educated, and wealthier individuals are more likely to be newspaper readers.  It also found that the only areas where readership experienced gains in recent years was among social media and mobile users.  Mobile users in particular might help readership numbers - the study found that 17% of mobile users reported that they only accessed newspaper content through mobile devices - accounting for 4% of "weekly readers."

  The report notes, though, that social media and mobile are delivery mechanisms, and for the most part are not direct news content creators - and as such, the continued diffusion of social and mobile media, and growth in usage, is likely to expand newspaper content readership over time (particularly among younger audiences).
54% of adults 18-24 consume newspaper content in print or on conventional computers, according to the Scarborough data. When combined with the audience for that same group who uses smartphones or tablets exclusively to connect with newspaper content in an average month, the 18-to-24 audience rises to almost 6 in 10 (59%).
In essence, the report notes that while print is in decline, digital media of all sorts is extending the reach of newspapers and other legacy media, particularly among younger audiences - the demographic that has bottomed out at around 20% regular readership of printed newspapers.

Sources -  Free-fall: Adjusted for inflation, print newspaper advertising revenue in 2012 was lower than in 1950,  AEI-Ideas.org
The American Newspaper Media Industry Revenue Profile 2012, NAA report
Accros Platforms, 7 in 10 Adults Access Content from Newspaper Media Each Week, NAA report.

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