Q1 revenues fell for US newspapers


After nine quarters of double-digit percentage revenue declines during the worst of the recession, US newspapers have now posted five quarters of single-digit declines. According to the latest numbers from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), Q1 of 2011 saw revenues fall 7.02% to $5.56 billion.

That’s an improvement over the 9.7% decline reported for Q1 of 2010, but still another down quarter. To put some perspective on the situation, total revenues for Q1 of this year were the lowest for any Q1 since 1984.

Not including online revenues, print ad revenues were down 9.48% in Q1 to $4.80 billion, the lowest Q1 since 1983. National was the softest category in Q1 this year, down 11% to $924 million. Retail fell 9.5% to $2.67 million and classified fell 8.15% to $1.15 billion.

The bright spot was online, where revenues grew for the 5th straight quarter. Online revenues rose 10.6% to $808 million.

Not surprisingly, NAA President and CEO John Sturm focused on that gain: “The strong growth in newspaper online ad revenues – which posted a third consecutive quarter of double-digit increases – reinforces the continuing strength of our medium’s digital transition. In fact, digital now represents nearly 15% of total newspaper ad revenue, providing a firm foundation for our industry’s future. However, newspaper companies were not immune to the last quarter’s stalled economic recovery, as sagging consumer confidence led to a slowdown in the growth of consumer spending. But other trends – like a 4% increase in print employment advertising – signal hope for economic growth ahead. As newspaper websites and mobile applications continue to engage key demographics and attract nearly two-thirds of all Internet users – more than 111 million unique visitors in April alone – newspaper advertising’s digital component is poised to advance its share of the market.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Be careful how you pitch that online share of total revenues! One reason why the online percentage of the newspaper pie has grown is that the pie has gotten smaller. Just when will the revenue slide for newspapers end? It is now 19 straight quarters, with no end in sight.