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Australian Newspapers are Retaining Relevance and Revenue

September 26, 2011

The State of Australian Newspapers 2011 report by The Newspaper Works indicates that Australian Newspapers are fairing far better than their US and UK counterparts when it comes to financial stability.

The results also show that newspapers in this country continue to set the daily news agenda more than any other medium, unlike their counterparts in the US and UK, where cable TV and the BBC respectively command the news every day.

Notably, seven of the top ten news websites are owned by newspaper publishers. Leveraging the consumer faith in their printed versions has provided newspaper publishers with the ideal platform to tackle the online world far more successfully than the average global rates.

This success is reflected by the strong display ad revenue growth experienced between 2006 and 2010. Display ad revenue for digital newspapers grew by 236% compared with 100% growth across the Internet as a whole. The strong performance of Australian newspapers is even more significant when compared to their global counterparts. The US experienced just 14% digital ad revenue growth and the global rate was only 55%.

Newspapers’ successful transition into the digital realm is further underlines by the fact over 1,000,000 people have downloaded newspaper brand apps for smartphones.

As a percentage of GDP, newspaper ad spending is higher than many other advanced ecomonies including Germany, Canada, UK, US, France, Italy and Spain.

The newspaper publishing markets have declined in all OECD countries however Australia has suffered only a 3% decline compared to the US with 30%.

Why are Australia newspapers weathering the storm so well?

Part of the success of Australian newspapers comes from the fact that 57% of people believe this medium shapes the important issues of the day.

Australia has a small population dispersed into clear geographic markets, especially when compared to the US and UK. Readership is also concentrated amongst a smaller number of newspapers per region.

This has the net effect of driving up the readership rates. While local trends no doubt affect engagement rates, newspapers reach over 70% of the population in Melbourne and over 60% in all major cities except Brisbane. One can’t help but wonder if IQ also plays it’s part here.

Just as significantly, Australian newspaper publishers have diversified revenue streams. Their media interests are broad and include TV, regional media and online properties. They are not reliant on the goose that lays the golden ad.

This diversification, in the words of John Hartigan, Chairman and Chief Executive of News Limited, means they “have the opportunity to move from setting the agenda each morning….to actually owning the agenda. All day. Every day.

Visit The Newspaper Works to download a full copy of the report.

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