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What Pew’s latest industry stats say about the media marketplace

August 7, 2019 | By Rande Price, Research Director—DCN @Randeloo

Pew Research Center has just released its latest State of the News Media report, which provides an annual briefing of the news media marketplace. Pew aggregates data from reputable experts to produce a concise industry profile. It offers a succinct yet comprehensive analysis of the media industry.

This year’s highlights include:

  • Newspaper circulation decline. News outlets today offer several digital options to reach consumers, including apps, newsletters, podcasts, and aggregation platforms like Apple News. Unsurprisingly, the majority of U.S. adults now get at least some of their news online. As a result, compared to 2017, total daily newspaper circulation declined, revenue from print circulation was flat and ad revenue from print declined 13%.
  • Digital revenue growth. Overall, digital advertising registered strong revenue growth year-over-year. Reflecting on the total digital ad market, revenue grew 23% from $88 billion in 2017 to $109 billion in 2018. Driving this revenue growth was mobile advertising revenue’s increase from $57 billion in 2017 to $71 billion in 2018, comprising almost two-thirds (65%) of all digital advertising revenue. Digital ad revenue for news publishers also grew and closely resembled the total digital ad market.
  • Cable news revenue growth. Cable news (Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC combined) continued to experience revenue growth this year. It’s one of the only sectors, outside of Local TV, to register a revenue increase (4%) in 2018. Further, since 2015, cable news revenue grew 36% and ad revenue grew 58%.
  • Usage flat for news sites. For the second year, both newspaper sites and native news sites usage remained flat (4Q 2016, 4Q 2017 and 4Q 2018). Time spent also declined on news sites (newspaper and native). It appears consumers now engage with news brands offsite using apps, newsletters, podcasts and aggregation platforms like Apple News or Flipboard and other platforms.
  • Local news viewership decline. Local news audiences are on a decline across multiple dayparts. According to Comscore StationView Essentials data, the average audience for local news declined 10% for morning news and 14% for late night and evening news. However, over-the-air ad revenue for local TV rose 12% to $19.3 billion in 2018, on par with a midterm election year.
  • Digital native employee growth slowing down. In 2018, reporters, editors, photographers or videographers in the newsrooms of digital-native now equal 13,500 employees  with a median annual salary of $62,000 according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics (OES).  

The key data points included in Pew’s State of News Media point to the continued shift in audience consumption of digital news and information and the challenges of monetization. With mobile now the access point for 24-hour news coverage, it’s no wonder that print and local news usage declined. Further, digital is no longer limited to onsite consumption, which creates new opportunities and challenges. News publishers have several touchpoints – including newsletters, podcasts and their content on aggregation platforms to – reach and engage consumers.

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