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“News publishers expect revenues to more than double this year”: World Press Trends 2022-23 Preview

Whilst the news industry is encountering strong headwinds, publishers are expecting significant growth in revenue in 2022, spurred on by investment in new revenue streams. Of these, publisher events are leading the way … and yet … advertising still remains king.

In a presentation at the World News Media Congress 2022 held in Zaragoza, WAN-IFRA’s Dean Roper gave an insight into the key trends that are emerging as part of the research into the forthcoming World Press Trends 2022-2023 report.

Released in December, the World Press Trends report is viewed as a benchmark into the health of the news industry and whilst sentiment is declining, quote, “news publishers are markedly more optimistic about their revenue growth in 2022 than in 2021. Overall, publishers expect revenues to more than double this year compared with last year.”

For emerging markets in 2022, the news is even better – publishers in developing economies have seen their expectations more than triple to 24% growth.

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However, there are storm clouds on the horizon with more than half (55%) of news publishers feeling pessimistic about their business prospects for 2023. This is a significant change compared to 12 months earlier, when over 80% said they were optimistic about the forthcoming year.

For the next 12 months and into 2023 most industries are expecting continued difficult times, and the news industry is certainly no exception. The rising costs of energy, for example, will continue to have an impact on printing and distribution costs

Dean Roper, Director of Insights and Editor-in-Chief of WAN-IFRA (quote courtesy of WAN-IFRA blog)

Advertising remains king

For most news publishers advertising continues to play a significant role. Over the next 12 months, surveyed publishers said that most of their revenue will come from advertising (41%), with some publishers stating that advertising still accounts for up to 80% of revenues. By comparison, reader revenue is expected to account for 33% of revenue.

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The traditional ‘either/or’ wall between advertising and paid subscriptions is also evolving. Moving forwards, many paid subscriptions will be accompanied by advertising but as one speaker remarked, “if you are advertising to people who have paid to subscribe, the advertising must be highly relevant and must not interfere with the user experience”.

Diversification gains momentum, especially events

Following a period of rapid investment, diversification is beginning to have a strong impact on many news publishers’ bottom line – revenue from ‘other’ sources has become the biggest area of growth (22%). Whilst contract publishing, ecommerce, membership and other revenue streams are doing well, the outstanding performer is events.

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Perhaps the only red flag is the growth of grant funding which, whilst often needed, has the potential to compromise the ability of news publishers to remain strictly impartial. At a time when trust in news media is at an all time low, there might need to be legislation to cap the amount of grant funding news publishers can receive, and perhaps even an oversight committee.

Product development remains paramount

As investment into alternative revenue models continues, product development and R&D have become the leading priority for many news publishers. A big component is investment into data spurred on by Google’s sunsetting of third-party cookies, as well as forays into analytics and new measurement tools. The growth of video is also significant, as are podcasts.

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The full World Press Trends report will be published at the end of the year by WAN-IFRA, and includes insights and data from 167 news executives from 62 different countries. The full report will include deeper detail and further insights from additional sources.