Business got worse for newspapers in Q3


While checking data on the website of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) for our report on Lee Enterprises filing Chapter 11 it occurred to us, “Gee, shouldn’t the Q3 numbers be up by now?” Yes, and they’re really ugly.

After five quarters of print advertising declines that were only single digit percentages, US newspapers returned to a double-digit decline in Q3. Total print advertising was down 10.78% to $4.82 billion. Retail fell 9.02% to $2.80 billion, national dropped 13.38% to $823 million and classified was down 12.92% to just under $1.2 billion.

The lone bright spot was online advertising tied to newspapers, which rose 6.20% to $733 million. That, however, was the smallest percentage gain in six quarters.

The total number for print and online combined was $5.56 billion, down 8.86%. That’s the lowest Q3 revenue tally since 1983, before there was even an online component to add in. For print alone it was the lowest Q3 figure since 1982.

With such dismal figures to report it appears NAA didn’t issue a press release with its usual attempt to find a silver lining hidden in the latest dark cloud. A Google search turned up only one other report on the Q3 numbers, from a publication called Newspapers & Technology, although it appears the Q3 data has been posted on the NAA site for several weeks.

RBR-TVBR observation: The great newspaper man Sam Zell once said that classified revenues can’t fall below zero. We would add that classified revenues are taking newspaper owners down a painful route to prove him correct.

By the way, newspaper revenues have now fallen for 21 consecutive quarters. But who’s counting?