Global Newspaper Circulation and Advertising Trends in 2015

June 21, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Europe & Middle East | Global & Regional | Media & Entertainment | Newspapers | Spending & Spenders

WAN-IFRA-Print-Newspaper-Circs-Ad-Trends-in-2015-June2016Audiences are contributing a larger share of newspapers’ revenues on a global basis, according to the latest annual World Press Trends survey issued by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). After surpassing advertising in 2014 for the first time this century as the leading revenue source for newspapers, circulation grew last year to account for 53% of global newspaper revenues.

Overall, the newspaper industry generated estimated advertising and circulation revenue of US$168 billion last year, with $90 billion coming from print and digital circulation compared to $78 billion from advertising.

Within the US, though, new PwC study data indicates that advertising continues to account for the majority of newspaper revenues. However, with ad revenues declining and circulation revenues gradually increasing, the gap between the two sources should narrow considerably by 2020, when ad revenues are expected to total $14.9 billion and circulation revenues $12.1 billion.

Although newspaper ad revenues are on the decline, with print ads having a compound annual growth rate of -9.3% between 2015 and 2020, print newspaper ads remain effective, per MarketingCharts research. In a new study on advertising effectiveness, print newspaper ads emerged as one of the leading purchase influencers when measured against frequency of exposure to those ads.

Returning to the WAN-IFRA study, the results show that:

  • Global newspaper revenues were down by 1.2% year-over-year in 2015, and are down by 4.3% over the last 5 years;
  • Print circulation increased by 4.9%, with a 5-year growth of 21.6%; while
  • Print ad revenues fell by 7.5% and have shrunk by 24% over the past 5 years.

The research indicates that there continues to be a wide disparity in newspapers’ fortunes when sorting by region, as detailed below.

  • North America

Print circulation was down by 2.4% year-over-year, and by 10.9% over 5 years. Declines have heightened from 2014.

Print ad revenues were down by 7.2% year-over-year. The decline has slightly ebbed from 2014.

Within the US, weekday circulation fell by 7% (print – 7%; digital +2%) and Sunday circulation by 4% (print -5%; digital +4%), with both being the largest declines since 2010, per Pew Research Center’s new State of the News Media report. Among publicly traded newspaper companies (that represent about one-quarter of US daily newspapers), ad revenues dropped by 7.8%, the biggest drop since 2009, though circulation was up by 1.2%.

More details on newspaper trends in the US can be accessed here.

  • Europe

Print circulation decreased by 4.7% year-over-year, and by 23.8% over 5 years. Declines have slightly expanded from 2014.

Print ad revenues declined by 6.2% year-over-year. That decline has also worsened from 2014.

  • Asia

Print circulation was up by 7.8% year-over-year in Asia, and by 38.6% over 5 years. The year-over-year trend was slightly lower in 2015 than in 2014, but the 5-year trend for increased circulation rose from a year earlier.

Print ad revenues were down by 9.7% year-over-year in Asia. Comparisons to 2014 cannot be made as last year’s ad revenues data included the Pacific region in the totals.

  • Australia and Oceania

Print circulation declined by 5.4% year-over-year in Australia and Oceania, and by 22.3% over 5 years. These figures are largely stable from last year.

Print ad revenues were down by 15.5% year-over-year in Australia and Oceania. No comparison can be made to last year’s data as the Pacific region was combined with Asia in the totals.

  • Latin America

Print circulation declined by 2.7% year-over-year, and by 1.5% over 5 years. Both figures show a decline in fortunes from 2014, when trends were positive.

Print ad revenues grew by 0.3% year-over-year, a much slower rate of growth than seen in 2014.

  • Middle East and Africa

Print circulation declined by 2.6% year-over-year, and by 1.2% over 5 years. As with Latin America, this is a reversal of the positive trends observed in 2014.

Print ad revenues for the Middle East and Africa were not made available. They have been requested and this article will be updated if/when they are received.

Other Fast Facts:

  • Globally, some 92% of newspaper revenues are derived from print, down only slightly from 93% in 2014.
  • The largest newspaper markets are the US, Japan, Germany, China, the UK, India and Brazil. Together, these account for a majority of global newspaper revenues and roughly 80% of global daily unit circulation.
  • Print unit circulation growth is largely due to increases in Asia. In fact, India and China accounted for an impressive combined 62% of global average daily print unit circulation last year, up from 59% in 2014.
  • While newspapers’ digital ad revenues aren’t expected to overtake print ad revenues, they grew by 8.5% in 2015 and by nearly 60% over 5 years.
  • Paid digital circulation increased by 30% year-over-year in 2015 (a slower rate than in 2014) and by 547% over the past 5 years (also a slower average than observed in 2014. This growth has been from a small base, though WAN-IFRA says that digital circulation is beginning to offset print circulation revenue losses in many markets, with roughly 1 in 5 online news users paying for content in the countries analyzed.
  • More than 2.7 billion people globally read print newspapers, and WAN-IFRA estimates that at least 40% of global internet users read newspapers online.

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