According to a new report, newspaper industry revenues declined at its slowest pace in six years, as publishers expanded their non-advertising related business, along with a boost from online subscription revenue.
The report, The American Newspaper Media Industry Revenue Profile 2012, was issued by the Newspaper Association of America and is the most comprehensive revenue profile of the media industry in its history.
Total revenue for the industry fell by two percent to $38.6 billion in 2012 from $39.5 billion in 2011.
Online subscriptions helped boost circulation revenue by five percent, which was the first increase since 2003.
The report found that 40 percent of the industry’s revenue is generated by non-advertising sources, such as event hosting, e-commerce, etc. This is a radical shift from the time when newspapers received 80 percent of their revenue from print advertising.
While the slower slide in revenues might give some newspaper executives hope, the fact remains that advertising revenues, which is still the main source of newspaper industry profits, slid nine percent in 2012 according to the 15 companies that provided detailed data to the NAA.
The worst hit categories were national advertising which was off 15 percent, followed by classified and automotive at nine percent and retail at eight percent.
That pattern shows no signs of abating as the economy continues to struggle and unemployment remains stubbornly high. And even though online subscription revenue rose, its likely to be a temporary boost as young readers eschew paywalls for the plethora of news that is available online for free.
The bottom line is that newspapers are still a dying industry—they’re just dying at a slightly slower pace.