More Ad Revenue Declines for Big Newspaper Publishers

The nation’s largest newspaper publishers all reported continuing declines in advertising revenues in the third quarter of 2011, bringing a barrage of bad news from Gannett Co., The New York Times Co., and McClatchy Co. What’s more, digital ad revenue continues to grow at a lackluster pace -- if at all.

The latest round of results from McClatchy Co. showed total revenues declining 8.4% from $327.7 million in the third quarter of 2010 to $300.2 million in the same period this year. Total advertising revenues declined 10% from $249.1 million to $224.2 million, with losses spread across all the major categories: National advertising fell 21% to $17.2 million, retail 10.3% to $114.6 million, and classifieds 12.2% to $62.3 million.

Within the classifieds category, automotive fell 4.9%, real estate 20.7%, and employment 8.9%.

As was the case at other big newspaper publishers, digital was not sufficient to balance out the print losses. Total digital advertising revenues at McClatchy were basically stagnant, decreasing 0.4% from $47.5 million in the third quarter of 2010 to $47.3 million in the third quarter of 2011 -- when they represented 15.7% of total advertising revenues. 



The situation at The New York Times Co. was little better, as total revenues fell 3.1% from $554.3 million in the third quarter of 2010 to $537.2 million in the third quarter, due to an 8.8% decrease in advertising revenues. Print advertising revenues fell 10.4%, with national ad revenues falling 6.3%, retail 5.9%, and classifieds 11.7%. Within classifieds, automotive fell 4.4%, real estate 17.4%, and help wanted 13.6%.

NYTCO’s digital revenues slipped 4.5% to $74.8 million, as a 20.8% drop at the company’s About division canceled out a 6.2% increase in digital ad revenues at the News Media Group, to $50.3 million. Digital ad revenues increased from 27.3% of total advertising revenues in the third quarter of 2010 to 28.6% in the third quarter of 2011.

On the digital side, NYTCO’s main focus is now on its online paywall strategy: the NYT now has 324,000 paid digital subscribers and paid and sponsored relationships with over 1.2 million digital users, according to the company.

The third quarter also brought more declines at Gannett Co., where total revenues slipped 3.5% from $1.31 billion in the third quarter of 2010 to $1.27 billion in the third quarter of 2011. The decrease was due mostly to continuing losses at the publishing division, where total revenues dropped 5.3% to $917.8 million; this, in turn, resulted from an 8.5% drop in publishing advertising revenues to $591.7 million.

Gannett retail ad revenues fell 6.3%, national 17.3%, and classifieds 9.4%. Automotive fell 5.4%, real estate tumbled 20.1%, and recruitment was flat year-over-year. 

Gannett’s total digital revenues increased 9.8% to $272.6 million, due mostly to growth at the company’s CareerBuilder online classifieds network. In the third quarter, digital revenues represented 21.5% of the company’s total operating revenues.


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