Forecasters Peer Through the Coronavirus Fog (News & Tech Staff Report)

June 5, 2020


Now that some of the fog has cleared concerning the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of reports provide snapshots of where the newspaper publishing industry is at and where it’s going. One data point on the brighter side: U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, shocking some economists who had foreseen unemployment rate to rise in May, CNN reported.

  • FTI Consulting, headquartered in Washington, updated an earlier forecast it had put out in April and produced a report June 1. The primary difference was that March actual was better than FTI’s original projection and April and May were a bit worse, with the result a couple point reduction in the forecast.
    • – Providing U- and V-shaped forecasts, FTI predicts YoY total advertising revenue decline ranges of 35%–40% in 2020
    • – Print ad revenue is forecast at 40% ‐ 45% declines in 2020.
    • – Digital ad revenue will be more resilient, with forecasted drops of 19%–23% in 2020 and growth returning in 2021 of 8%–22%.
    • – Total revenue declines, previously forecasted at 5%–6% annually until 2021, are now expected to decline at a 10%–14% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from 2019–2021.

The industry may see as high as 50%+ year‐over‐year growth in digital subscription revenue by Q4 2020; mostly volume, the report says. FTI provided some “rethinking print” concepts in the report.

  • The Interactive Advertising Bureau, based in New York, has published its Internet advertising revenue report.

Much of the report reflects reality before COVID-19. Beyond Q2 of 2020, it’s “unknown if advertisers will continue to slash or pull budgets for industry verticals that have been severely impacted by COVID-19,” says the report. “Also, as news sites have been dominated by stories associated with COVID-19, many advertisers don’t want to be associated on pages with those articles. Both of these factors contribute to the outlook by several public companies that growth of advertising revenues in the future continue to be a question mark.”

    • – Digital ad revenue was $124.6 billion for the full year of 2019. This represented a 15.9% increase over the $107.5 billion total for 2018, said the report.
    • -Of the ad formats tracked in the report, video is the leader of the pack. Internet ad revenue from digital video was $21.7 billion in 2019, a 33.5% increase over 2018’s figure of $16.3 billion. Mobile video continued to surpass expectations, with a 43.9% growth rate in 2019, says the report.
    • – Internet advertising rate of growth tops all other media except the esports industry, says the report, providing these figures: esports 27%, internet advertising 15.9%, video games 7.7%, music 4.3%, cinema 4.1%, out-of-home 3.5%, B2B 1.3%, radio 0.9%, TV advertising -0.6%, magazines -2.4% and newspapers -5.9%.

Other recent reports of interest:

52% of advertisers plan to increase spending this summer, survey finds

S&P Global: Gannett has highest market signal probability of default


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