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News publishers pessimistic about next year

Survey shows growing pessimism among news publishers

More than half (55.4%) of news publishers are pessimistic about their business prospects for the next year. When asked about the next three years, the level of optimism increases but only slightly. This is a stark change compared to last year when over 80% said they were optimistic about the next 12 months, World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) says in a global survey.

”It is no secret that for the next 12 months and into 2023 most industries are expecting continued difficult times, and the news industry is certainly no exception. The rising costs of energy, for example, will continue to have an impact on printing and distribution costs,” says Dean Roper, Director of Insights and Editor-in-Chief of WAN-IFRA.

“Our latest study shows that these are concerns for publishers around the world, but we also see that some are actually quite bullish about the future – and certainly they have transformed their businesses, probably built around data, to be in that position.”

WAN-IFRA says publishers have managed to adapt and innovate during the pandemic and those efforts will pay off in 2022 with markedly increased total revenue – critically, developing new revenue streams.

Initial results from the World Press Trends survey include:

  • Investments in new revenue are starting to pay off: Digital reader revenue and digital advertising continue to grow at double-digit rates – 16.0% and 10.3% respectively. But revenue from other sources has now become the biggest area of growth (21.5%). Publishers have been investing heavily in diversifying their revenue structures over the last few years, and these investments are now seemingly bearing fruit. Among new sources of revenue, publishers highlight events as a particularly important activity.
  • Fast revenue growth expected in 2022: Compared to 2021, news publishers are more optimistic about their revenues as their growth is expected to more than double this year (+7.3% in 2021 compared to +16.4% in 2022). This growth is mostly driven by the publishers in developing countries, who on average reported higher expectations for revenue growth in 2022 (+24%) than their peers in developed countries (+8%).
  • The traditional revenue streams remain crucial: While print revenues either decline (print advertising) or stagnate (print reader revenue), in the big picture print remains a central revenue source for a large group of publishers around the world. At the moment more than half of publishers’ income (on average 55%) comes from print activities, according to the survey results. Over the next 12 months, publishers said that most of their revenue will come from advertising (40.9%), followed by reader revenue (32.8%) and other sources (23.9%).
  • Past and current challenges helped crystallise key investment areas: Product development and R&D have become top of mind for publishers, followed closely by investments in their revenue models. As for investments in technologies and products, data analytics is the main area where publishers continue to invest in, while video and audio publishing are also seeing significant investments.

167 news executives from 62 countries took part in the World Press Trends Outlook 2022 survey in July–September 2022.

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