Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pew: The State of American Journalism Revenues

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
 The State of News Media 2014 report estimates that the news industry in the U.S. generated around $65 billion in 2013.  That figure combines advertising and subscription/sales revenues.  To put that in context, global video game revenues are $93 billion, and Google had revenues of $53 billion.  But is that good?  Print's future looks increasingly dismal; broadcast's holding its own; but the online news world is generating more usage and revenues - and their revenues are growing rapidly.  While online revenues are currently small compared to traditional revenue streams for news media.  However, they are growing rapidly, even as digital opens myriad opportunities to develop new revenue streams.

Key findings in the 2014 report:
  • Advertising remains the dominant source for news revenues, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the total,
  • Audience revenues is the other major source, generating about 25% of news revenues
  • Alternative revenue sources and streams account for a growing share of news revenues. However, there contribution is small, with all other sources contributing just 8% of the total.
There are, however, significant variations across media.   Print media revenues are declining (particularly print ad revenues), while radio and TV advertising remains fairly stable.  The boom is in online and mobile advertising revenues, but those remain a small piece of the pie.

On the audience side, there are signs that traditional subscription payments are starting to decline.  Traditional print circulation and subscription numbers are starting to fall, despite (or as a response to) increasing subscription costs.  And while the newspaper industry is hoping that paywalls and digital subscriptions to online versions may recoup losses, a recent NAA study found that virtually all of the digital subscription gains in recent years come from 5 major newspapers.  There are signs, on the other hand, that various media are finding revenues through content licensing, and repurposing content for distribution through alternative channels. 

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