About 10 years ago there was a major worldwide shift in how people consumed and shared news and information. There began a shift away from reading newspapers and watching TV news to social media. Today many people’s main source of news are posts in their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds rather than from traditional news organizations. This of course has implications, and so we thought it was a good time to look at the state of media.
U.S. newspaper circulation reached its lowest level since 1940, the first year with available data. Total daily newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) was an estimated 28.6 million for weekday and 30.8 million for Sunday in 2018. Those numbers were down 8% and 9%, respectively, from the previous year.
The audience for local TV news has steadily declined. The average audience fell in key time slots in 2018, down 10% for morning news and 14% for late night and evening news, according to Comscore StationView Essentials® data.
Cable news was a bright spot in another down year for the U.S. news media industry’s economic fortunes. Revenue rose 4% over the past year for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC combined, according to estimates from Kagan, a media research group. That made cable news one of the only sectors with a revenue increase in 2018. Some think this is uniquely American and part of the “Trump effect” where people who are pro and anti-Trump seek out more TV news than in past years.
Traffic to news websites seems to have leveled off. Unique visitors to the websites of both newspapers and digital-native news sites showed no growth between the fourth quarters of 2017 and 2018, the second year in which there was no notable growth, according to Comscore, a cross-platform audience measurement company. From 2014 to 2016, traffic rose steadily for both these sectors in the fourth quarter.
Digital ad revenue has grown exponentially, but a majority goes to Facebook and Google rather than to publishers. Revenue from ads placed on digital platforms – counting all platforms, not just news sites – rose by 23% in 2018, and now makes up nearly half (49%) of all ad revenue in the US.
While these stats are all for the US market they do reflect a larger international trend and can help show the state of media across the globe.