National Newspapers - UK - March 2015
“Compensating for declining circulation revenue without raising cover prices continues to be a struggle for newspapers. Going forward, the best option for boosting digital revenue may be a ‘soft’ paywall, where more exclusive digital products are made paid-for, while basic news remains free in order to keep audience reach high.”
– Rebecca McGrath, Research Analyst
This report answers the following questions:
- Is the paywall the answer?
- How are newspapers adapting their products for the digital world?
This report looks at the UK national newspapers market as newspapers continue to adjust to perpetually declining print circulation numbers and explore ways of growing their digital presence and revenue.
Despite circulation declines print revenue remains the primary source of revenue for national newspapers, leaving publishers examining the best methods of fully monetising their digital products in a world where people are accustomed to obtaining online news for free. The last year has though yielded slightly more positive results for many of the big players, giving a more optimistic view of the role of national newspapers going forward.
This report examines the factors driving demand for national newspapers, looks at sales trends overall and by segment, assesses market shares, profiles the leading publishers and provides a consumer viewpoint concerning brand perception; it documents readership levels, devices used to access national news online, sites visited online and general attitudes towards national newspapers.
For the purposes of this report, national newspapers are defined as those newspapers that are circulated throughout the UK. There remains a lack of uniformity among the major monitoring bodies (the Newspaper Society and ABC) as to which titles should be included as nationals and which as regionals, but in most respects this report adheres to ABC practice.
Going forward, national newspapers need to continue to explore different payment options and ways of boosting digital revenue. The most likely ultimate solution will be a form of ‘soft’ paywall, where certain, more exclusive, content and products have a fee, while the main ‘basic news’ section remains free in order to boost browser numbers and advertising revenue. It is also vitally important that newspapers continue to adapt their products to suit different needs and devices now that news is read across so many types of screens.
Although the future for national newspapers appears to lie online, investment should continue to be made in the print product. There is likely always to be a market for print newspapers, even if it becomes increasingly niche, and therefore publishers need to ensure their newspapers remain fresh, with a good focus on in-depth commentary pieces to make-up for the printing time-lag.
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