Newspaper Publishers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 4,200 newspaper publishers in the US produce and distribute news and other content in print or electronic form. Firms earn revenue primarily from selling advertising space and subscriptions. Large firms may operate as media conglomerates and publish or broadcast content across multiple platforms, including electronic media, magazines, television, or radio. Large firms may own multiple newspapers across the country; some operate internationally.

Competition for Ad Dollars

In the increasingly fragmented world of media, newspapers compete for advertising dollars with a variety of alternative sources, including TV, magazines, direct mail, radio, the Internet and billboards.

Long Decline for Traditional Print Business

The newspaper publishing industry has been in long-term decline, driven by the rise of the Internet and digital media.

Industry size & Structure

The average newspaper publisher operates out of a single location, employs 26 workers, and generates about $5-6 million annually.

    • The newspaper publishing industry consists of about 4,000 firms that employ about 105,000 workers and generate $23 billion annually.
    • The industry is concentrated; the top 50 companies account for 74% of industry revenue.
    • The industry includes national publications, market-level publications, and community newspapers.
    • Large companies include News Corporation (Wall Street Journal, New York Post), Gannett (USA Today, Detroit Free Press), Advance Publications (Star Ledger, Cleveland Plain Dealer), McClatchy Company (Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee), and the New York Times.
    • The top daily newspapers (based on circulation) include the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Post.
                                Industry Forecast
                                Newspaper Publishers Industry Growth
                                Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                Recent Developments

                                Nov 16, 2023 - Revenue Challenges Continue
                                • Newspaper publishing industry revenue decreased 3.2% year over year but increased 1.6% quarter over quarter during Q2 2023 to $5,354 million. Personal consumption expenditures, an indicator of demand for newspapers, increased moderately during the first nine months of 2023. Industry employment decreased significantly during the first nine months of 2023 while wages for nonsupervisory employees increased slightly during the first half of the year then decreased to early 2023 levels.
                                • The News Media Alliance (NMA), a trade group that represents newspapers, says that artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots like ChatGPT use news articles to power the technology significantly more than they use generic online content. The NMA released research in October which it said showed that AI chatbots rely more heavily on news articles and that chatbots reproduce sections of some articles in their responses. The group argued that the findings show that AI companies violate copyright law.
                                • Major industry players including The New York Times, News Corp, Axel Springer, Dotdash Meredith owner IAC, and others are forming a coalition to take on artificial intelligence (AI) giants like Google and OpenAI, according to news site Semafor. Publishers’ primary concern is reportedly how AI will impact traffic to their websites from Google searches, as the AI chatbots may simply scrape that data from their pages and serve it to the user without attribution or links. Semafor notes that tech companies may hope to placate publishers with payouts as large as eight-figures, as the Facebook News Initiative did when it made payments annually between 2019 and 2022 with fees reportedly exceeding $20 million for the Times, $15 million for the Washington Post, and $10 million for the Wall Street Journal. Publishers believe that the numbers ought to be much bigger this time around, according to Semafor. If these breakthrough language models rely on their inputs, they argue, the share of the value they collect should be commensurate — and should run into the billions of dollars across the industry.
                                • Newspaper publisher Gannett filed suit against Google and parent company Alphabet over its alleged monopoly on the advertising business. Gannett accused Google and Alphabet of maintaining an illegal monopoly over the tools used to buy and sell advertising online; creating a lack of competition in the space which has “depressed” the prices publishers can charge for advertising; and said that Google has “dwarfed” the amount of content that news organizations, which have historically relied heavily on advertising revenue, can produce. A 2021 report by the American Economic Liberties Project stated that 86% of online advertising is now sold through a “stock market-like ‘advertising exchange’ controlled by these tech giants.” News organizations, which are doing the “heavy lifting” by creating content that attracts readers, only receive 30 to 50 cents per dollar of advertising revenue, according to the report.
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