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

                                Dec 2, 2022 - Industry Jobs In Key Publishing Hub Have Decreased
                                • The number of people employed in New York publishing houses dipped by 1.7% between 2010 and 2020, according to the "2022 Publishing Industry Economic Impact Study." New York, a major publishing industry hub, is considered by some experts to be a bellwether for the entire publishing industry. The book publishing job market fared much better than the periodical publishing sector, where the number of jobs decreased 45% between 2010 and 2020, falling to 13,700, and newspaper publishers, where employment fell 20%, to 7,100. The report noted, however that consolidation among large publishers likely caused, but that was countered by a growing independent press segment.
                                • Newspaper publishers are relying more heavily on the US Postal Service for delivery due to driver shortages and decreasing subscriptions which, in some areas, has led to situations where subscribers are too few and far between for traditional delivery to make sense. The number of newspapers sent to subscribers or sold at newsstands has dropped by about a third in two and a half years, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. The consistency of delivery by mail has helped ease customer complaints about not getting their papers on time, according to industry veterans. Some local publishers are realizing significant cost savings when they switch to mail delivery, more than offsetting minor losses of subscribers who don’t want mail delivery.
                                • Magna, a unit of Interpublic Group of Companies' Mediabrands, cut in September its forecast for nonpolitical ad spending for the second half of this year and its total advertising spending growth forecast for 2023. Company analysts say that a weaker economic environment is likely to cut into consumer spending. Items like food, drinks, personal care, and household goods ‘are especially at risk as firms are forced to increase product prices and face the possibility of consumers trading down in favor of cheaper brands.’ Advertising expenditures will decrease as a result. Ad spending growth for all of 2022 will come in at 9.8%, Magna said, less than the 11.1% forecast in June. The growth forecast for 2023 was cut to 4.8% from the June prediction of 5.8% growth.
                                • Global digital circulation revenue continues to grow at a much faster pace than income from online ads, according to newspaper and periodical publishers surveyed by the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). Total online ad revenue still exceeds total circulation revenue, however. There are differences between markets, some of which can be attributed to different subscription strategies in different places. Many leading subscription brands in the UK, for example, are hard paywall sites, which are less popular in the US, according to WAN-IFRA. Circulation of newspapers peaked in the late 1990s at over 62 million with an advertising revenue of nearly $50 billion, according to Pew Research. Circulation fell to about 24 million in 2020, and advertising revenue has declined to just over $9 billion. That's a readership drop of over 60% and a revenue drop of over 80%.
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