The second half of 2016 was no better than the first, as far as newspaper and magazine publishers are concerned. Total revenues continued to fall, reflecting the long-term secular decline in print advertising.
According to the latest quarterly estimates for selected service industries, released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week, total revenues for the newspaper publishing industry came to $6.39 billion in the third quarter of the year, down 2.5% from $6.56 billion in the third quarter of 2015.
Magazine publishers saw total revenues fall 4.3% from $7.09 billion to $6.79 billion over the same period, also per the Census Bureau.
For the year to date, newspaper revenues fell from $19.79 billion in the first nine months of 2015 to $19.18 billion in the first nine months of 2016. Magazine revenues were down 4.4% from $21.11 billion to $20.19 billion over the same period.
The Census report doesn’t specify what proportion of newspaper and magazine revenues came from advertising versus circulation, nor does it break down print versus digital revenues.
However, given past trends, it is safe to conclude the greater part of these losses is due to sustained declines in print ads, which have more than offset any gains in digital ads and subscriptions for most big publishers.
It’s hardly news that print ads have cratered over the last decade. Taking a longer view, according to the Census, total U.S. newspaper publishing revenues tumbled from $49.96 billion in 2005, the industry’s peak year, to $27.04 billion in 2015, for a 46% drop over that 10-year period.Magazine publishers managed to avoid the print punch for a bit longer than their counterparts in the newspaper industry. Eventually, they fell prey to the same trend. Periodical publishing revenues fell from $49.3 billion in 2007 to $28.3 billion in 2015, for a 43% decline over this period.