Thursday, 1 August 2013

UK National Newspapers. 9% pay for online news. Will a billionaire buy them?

Interesting numbers on UK Newspapers from this month's Economist (always well worth a read by the way).

Since 2008, the UK nationals circulation (Britain has 12 nationals) has been in decline and much more when compared to the US, Japan and Europe. They're down by 25%.

UK newspapers traditionally have depended on the casual reader buying off the cover (so a new Royal baby is a great fillip for them) rather than a daily buying habit or subscriptions. Tabloid headlines consequently, are key here to attract that casual reader in the newsagent. 

But it is far easier for a reader not to buy a newspaper in the shop there and then, rather than cancel a subscription which is the prominent way newspapers are sold in the US for example.

The Telegraph (superb publication), FT, Guardian, Independent and Times all are all pushing subscriptions and with some success. From December 2008 to May 2013, subscriptions have gone from 26% to 41% of overall circulation.

The Telegraph for example, are giving away a free Kindle with every subscription and others are bundling digital access with the sub. Clearly too, subs are better revenue long term and give numbers on readers profiles which can be used for targeted Ads. 

9% of British readers are paying for online news (paywalls) up from 4% in 2012. Some newspapers are adding content to their digital edition such as The Sun with clips of Premier League soccer games. Creating more worthwhile content that's worth paying for rather than just, an online version of the newspaper.

All of this though, is not compensating for the loss in Advertising revenue. Newspaper Ad revenue estimated by The Economist, will be 2 billion stg, about half of its 2005 level. The Times loses money, despite its successful paywall.

Like Ireland however, Britain has too many newspapers for the number of readers - it is an over saturated market. And free-sheets, such as The Evening Standard, prosper. 

So with the circulation declines and albeit the efforts to grow subs, the decline in Ads and the march of online, will mean that things will tighten up through the potential closure of some of those 12 titles. Nevermind competitive threats from other and new media. Although as someone said, newspapers are like soccer clubs....some billionaire will buy them.

Indeed. Like Ireland.