Declines in U.S. newspapers’ print circulation will continue as consumers increasingly gravitate toward the Internet for news, according to new research from Outsell.
The firm predicts a 3.5 percent annual drop in both daily and Sunday circulation, leading to a low of 43 million Sunday newspaper readers by 2012, compared to more than 62 million in the early 1990s.
The research highlighted the dramatic effect that aggregators such as Google and Yahoo have had on both print and online readership. For “news right now,” 57 percent of news users now got digital sources, up from 33 percent a few years ago. They are also likelier to turn to an aggregator (31%) than a newspaper site (8%) or other site (18%).
“Among the aggregators, Google’s effect on the newspaper industry is particularly striking,” said Outsell analyst Ken Doctor.
“Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it’s also taking a significant share away. A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers’ individual sites.”
Other research highlights include:
- Newspapers that see paid online content as a panacea are in for a rude awakening. Only 10 percent of news users are willing to pay for a print newspaper subscription to gain online access. Seventy-five percent say they’d turn to a different source for local online news if their newspapers required a paid subscription.
- Local newspapers retain strength with local topics, such as family events and entertainment, but there are “cracks in the house.”