Moody's

For the publishing industry, the headlines just keep getting worse. Print advertising revenue for newspapers is expected to decline low- to mid-teen percentages through first-half 2018, according to a new Moody’s Investor Service report. Where newspapers once accounted for a quarter of all ad spending, hitting a 26% share in 2004, they now represent just 10% of all U.S. advertising.

In response, over the last decade, newspapers have been slashing expenses and building up digital products and internet ad sales opportunities. However, Moody’s notes those changes aren’t keeping pace with declines in readership and new trends in media consumption where Americans increasingly turn to mobile devices for news and information.

“Technology-driven shifts in consumer reading habits keep hurting newspapers, and competition for advertisers continues to rise from search engines, social media and digital video,” says Alina Khavulya, VP and senior analyst at Moody’s.

On the magazine side, conditions are slightly better, thanks to “continued demand for glossy weekly and monthly publications from readers,” Khavulya says.

However, in a separate global forecast by Zenith Media, both the print magazine and newspaper industries are expected to cede revenue and market share. The ad agency predicts that worldwide, newspapers and magazines will each continue to shrink at average rates of 5% per year between 2016 and 2019, falling to respective 8% and 4% market shares within three years. That’s down from newspapers’ 28% share in 2006 and a 13% share for magazines.

“Print titles will continue to lose market share as their readers continue to move to online versions of the print brands or other forms of information and entertainment entirely,” the Zenith report notes.

In its report, Zenith does not include advertising revenue from digital extensions, which is a growing business for legacy media companies, including print publications.

In an attempt to shore up print operations, Moody’s expects newspaper publishers will continue to look for ways to cut distribution and production costs, including eliminating locally produced coverage of national and regional stories and opting for single-source coverage across markets. Also, the firm expects an uptick in acquisitions, as “better capitalized publishers acquire smaller targets at attractive prices, cutting overhead costs and eliminating other redundancies in the process.”

Forecasters do not expect print media to reverse the losses anytime soon, however. Through 2019, Zenith predicts both print newspapers and magazines will continue to suffer declines in global ad spend, with newspapers losing $8.2 billion and magazines down $4.3 billion. In contrast, over the same period, Zenith expects worldwide mobile advertising to increase $82 billion, television to grow $6.8 billion and radio ad spend to rise $1 billion.