Newspaper circulation around the world dropped by only 0.9% in 2012, as losses in North America and other regions were almost completely offset by gains in Asia, according to the latest World Press Trends survey of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, which includes data from more than 90% of the global industry’s value. The study shows that more than half of the world’s adults read a daily newspaper, with 2.5 billion doing so in print and 600 million in digital. While overall circulation figures were only down marginally, advertising spend fell by 2% in 2012, and by a more dramatic 22% since 2008.
The research reveals a rather wide variance in newspaper’s fortunes when sorting by region:
- North America
Circulation was down by 6.6% year-over-year, and by 13% since 2008.
Advertising revenues were down by 7.6% over 1 year and by 42.1% over 5.
- Western Europe
Circulation declined by 5.3% over 1 year, and by 24.8% over 5.
Ad revenues dropped by 3.4% year-over-year, and by 23.3% since 2008.
- Eastern Europe
Circulation was down by 8.2% year-over-year, and by 27.4% since 2008.
Advertising revenues were down by 5.6% over 1 year and by 30.2% over 5.
- Middle East and North Africa
Circulation dropped by 1.4% year-over-year, but increased by 10.5% since 2008.
Advertising revenues increased by 2.3% over 1 year, but declined by 22.7% over 5.
Circulation increased by 1.2% over 1 year, and by 9.8% over 5.
Ad revenues were up by 3.6% year-over-year, and by 6.2% since 2008.
- Australia and New Zealand
Circulation was up by 3.5% year-over-year, and by 1% since 2008.
Advertising revenues were down by 8.3% over 1 year and by 24.9% over 5.
- Latin America
Circulation increased marginally, by 0.1% over 1 year, but by a larger 9.1% over 5.
Ad revenues were up by 9.1% year-over-year, and by 37.6% since 2008.
The data shows that newspaper advertising revenues have declined at a faster rate globally than circulation. That’s primarily due to faster losses in the US, where print advertising fell by 42% over the 5-year period, representing three-quarters of global losses. The researchers attribute that large decline to “traditionally high dependence on classified advertising,” which has now migrated online.
- Survey respondents say that their biggest challenge is increasing audience engagement on digital platforms. Although a majority of the digital population visits newspaper websites, newspapers represent just a small fraction of total internet consumption: 7% of visits; 1.3% of total time spent; and just 0.9% of page visits.
- In the US. Germany and France, time spent with news content on tablets is equal with time spent with the printed newspaper, a fairly astounding result.
- Packaging of print and digital subscriptions appears to be performing well. Where data is available, the research shows that single copy sales are down 26%, while subscription sales are down 8%.