According to the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), in its annual update of World Press Trends, more than half the world’s adult population read a newspaper: more than 2.5 billion in print and more than 600 million in digital form. That represents more readers and users than total global users of the Internet. But, says the report, publishers have not yet found ways to match that growth with revenues from digital platforms.
Despite people spending an increasing amount of time with digital services, overall media consumption levels have risen by only a few minutes per day, to a total in excess of 400 minutes a day. Two-thirds of this time is spent with TV or radio, during which people regularly do other things at the same time.
Online Newspaper Reading Behavior (Selected Countries)
Percent of Users
Ever visit a paper site
Visit a paper site daily
Percent of pages viewed per visitor
Source: WAN-IFRA/ComScore, November 2012; In the US, for example, 67% of people who ever use the Internet, visit newspaper sites. But only 17% of daily web users turn to their newspaper site daily.
Time spent reading newspapers has remained relatively flat over the past five years, while internet usage levels have increased by approximately 20 minutes during the same period. The big loser has been radio, where consumption levels have fallen by 11% since 2007, as people turn to the web or music player for their music.
Newspaper advertising revenues have been declining as revenues lost in print have not been replaced by digital advertising. The study found that this decline correlates with a lack of “intensity” when it comes to digital news reading: digital news consumers spend less time and visit fewer pages on digital platforms than they do in print. The 2012 World Press Trends update found:
Despite the circulation declines in mature markets, newspaper reader levels remain high – Western Europe and North America have the highest levels of readership by region.
Newspapers are a 200 billion dollar annual industry. Newspaper advertising has declined 25% globally over the past five years. North America alone accounts for nearly three-quarters of this decline. Declines in Western Europe have eased in recent years.
Digital newspaper ad revenues
Digital is having only a small impact on newspaper revenues, says the report, compared to print. While there are some markets, notably the United States and Sweden, where digital revenues exceed 10% of all advertising, digital accounted for only an estimated 2.2% of all newspaper advertising globally last year, or 2.1 billion dollars.
Media Share of Global Advertising
% of Total
Source: WAN-IFRA, November 2012
In conclusion, says the report, the facts are hard to dismiss: the World Press Trends survey shows that newspapers are pervasive, they are part of the fabric of our societies. Our industry is stronger than many imagine.
The WAN-IFRA World Press Trends survey is the largest of its kind, containing data from more than 75 countries, representing more than 90% of global industry turnover. The 2012 report includes circulation data from over 150 countries drawn from local sources and auditing bureaus, and covers over 97% of the world’s newspaper industry by turnover.
N.B. The total global print readership figure covers only daily newspapers of which there are approximately 12,000 worldwide, with a total circulation every day well in excess of half a billion. It excludes readership among non-daily and Sunday newspapers, of which there are an estimated 80,000 worldwide. These are likely have readership levels exceeding those of daily newspapers. And now there are also more than half a billion people who read their newspaper online.