22 in a row for American newspapers


NewspaperThat’s how many consecutive down quarters US newspapers as a group have now suffered through.  The Q4 revenue decline reported by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) also sealed the sixth straight down year.

The only good news for newspapers in the latest NAA figures is that Q4 of 2011 did not repeat the double digit percentage decline in print revenues seen in Q3. Print revenues fell 8.03% to $5.93 billion, the lowest Q4 showing since 1982. Total newspaper revenues, including online, were down 6.69% to $6.83 billion, the lowest since 1984, well before there were any online revenues to add in.

Retail advertising revenues declined 6.01% in Q4 to $3.45 billion, national dropped 9.39% to $1.04 billion and classified plunged 11.62% to $1.44 billion. Online gained 3.10% to $906 million.

For all of 2011 US newspaper revenues were down 7.3% to $23.94 billion, the lowest figure since 1984. Print only revenues were down 9.2% to $20.69 billion, the lowest since 1983.

Retail fell 8.0% in 2011 to $11.89 billion, national was down 10.5% to #3.78 billion and classified declined 11.0% to $5.03 billion. Online, meanwhile, rose 6.8% to $3.25 billion.

RBR-TVBR observation: Online revenues for US newspapers could possibly surpass national ad revenues in 2012, so at least there’s some digital upside to the fish wrapper business. It probably won’t be many years before online revenues also surpass classified advertising, which has been rapidly shrinking from its peak of $19.6 billion in 2000. But it will be quite a while before online can turn around the total revenue decline for newspapers. It’s a pretty safe bet that the string of 22 down quarters will grow to 26 in 2012.


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