Forecasts Improve, But Not For Newspapers

The rising tide doesn't necessarily lift all boats, especially if they've sprung a leak. That seems to be the message behind the recent advertising forecast updates from ZenithOptimedia and Magna Global. They may be optimistic about the prospects for many traditional and digital media, but newspapers will continue to sink.

Newspapers (and to a lesser degree their print cousins, consumer magazines) will suffer further losses over the next few years. Magazines will eventually rebound, according to ZenithOptimedia, but the trend line for newspapers unmistakably suggests a long-term -- indeed, terminal -- decline.

The global forecast from ZenithOptimedia has total newspaper spending declining from $98 billion in 2009 to $95 billion in 2010, $93.6 billion in 2011, and $92.8 billion in 2012.

Magazines will decline from $44.1 billion to $43.2 billion in 2010, then $42.7 billion in 2011, before stabilizing in 2012.

While still substantial, the newspaper figures conceal steeper declines in some regions, offset by growth in others. Specifically, newspapers are enjoying substantial growth in developing countries, especially Asia, though the medium is in steep decline in advanced economies like North America, per the Newspaper Association of America.



Total newspaper ad revenues have plunged 44% from $49.4 billion in 2005 to $27.6 billion in 2009.

The Internet, by contrast, will enjoy strong sustained growth, with global spending jumping from $61.3 billion in 2010 to $82.7 billion in 2012. Radio and outdoor will see smaller increases.

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