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September 14, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:35am

Report predicts five years of steep global decline for newspaper industry revenue (print and online)

By Freddy Mayhew

Global newspaper advertising is set to fall by $8bn in 2020, with global circulation revenues down by $6.5bn on last year, new figures show.

PWC’s Media Outlook report 2020-2024 shows the immediate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the news industry and forecasts years of slow recovery ahead.

The figures show that at a global and national level print revenues will continue to fall faster and further than digital growth can offset, although this is less stark in the UK than in the US.

The report forecasts that global newspaper advertising (print and online) will fall from $49.2bn in 2019 to $36bn in 2024, a decline of more than a quarter (27%) over five years.

Global circulation and subscriber revenue is expected to fall from $58.7bn in 2019 to $50.4bn in 2024, the PWC report predicts.

Newspaper revenue 2019-24 (print and online – source PWC)

Advertising revenue 2019 2020 2024 CAGR (2019-2024)
Global $49.245bn $41.241bn $35.937bn -6.11%
UK $1.499bn $1.141bn $1.058bn -6.74%
US $15.056bn $13.067bn $10.887bn -6.28%
Circulation revenue 2019 2020 2024 CAGR (2019-2024)
Global $58.714bn $52.163bn $50.411bn -3%
UK $2.385bn $2.133bn $2.133bn -2.21%
US $11.399bn $10.182bn $9.995bn -2.60%

PWC said: “The migration of advertising to digital platforms and lower rates are driving this change, and although unit sales are falling at an often precipitous rate, publishers have the extra lever of cover-price rises to mitigate revenue decline.

“The result is that print circulation revenue in general is falling less quickly than print advertising revenue, and that remains so even in the Covid-19-affected world.

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“But digital circulation revenue continues to grow, from $4.5bn in 2019 to $7bn by 2024 at an 8.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

“As print continues its decline, more publishers are re-evaluating their content offerings and reporting that their subscription revenue, boosted by digital growth, has displaced advertising as their most significant revenue stream.”

In the UK, the report said that between 2007 and 2019 the number of journalists employed by publishers of newsbrands has fallen by 26% from 23,000 to 17,000.

Newspaper ad spend (in print and online) is forecast to fall by more than $350m in 2020 to $1.1bn. It will fall to just over £1bn in 2024, the report predicts.

PWC said: “Print revenue from both circulation and advertising has fallen and will continue to decline over the forecast period.

“Print newspaper circulation revenue will fall from $1.9bn in 2019 to $1.5bn by 2024 at a -4.8% CAGR. Print newspaper advertising revenue will fall more steeply, from $1.1bn in 2019 to $674m at a -10.3% CAGR.”

In the US, newspaper advertising spend is expected to fall by $2bn in 2020 to $13bn. It is forecast to fall further still by 2024, to just under $11bn.

More than a billion dollars is forecast to be wiped off US newspaper circulation revenues in 2020, falling to $10.2bn. Circulation spend is predicted to fall to just under $10bn in 2024.

PWC said: “The US has few truly national newspapers. Traditionally, communities have been served by a combination of local and regional papers, and around one in four of these have been shut down since 2004.

“Total newspaper revenue in the US is forecast to fall from $26.5bn in 2019 to $20.9bn by 2024, as the outbreak of Covid-19 hits the sector in 2020.

“Fewer people are buying newspapers, many preferring instead to access packaged news online with free news aggregator websites like Google News, Apple News and Facebook, and turning to social media for the latest gossip, headlines, weather or classifieds.

“In the digital economy, the newspaper industry is having to adapt or face irrelevance.”

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