Market watch
Too early to declare
‘death of printed newspapers’

More often than not, every one of us are told ‘printed newspapers are dead in the west!’ But a reality check shows something besides what is usually heard or seen. A latest market survey shows 51 percent of the adult population in the US still read printed newspapers; however, the scenario is comparatively far better in India. Jyaneswar Laishram finds out.

No doubt, digital news media is taking up its share in the newspaper market. The dramatic growth of the medium over the recent years has compelled newspaper houses to modify distribution models and they eventually opt for multi-channel platforms. There is possibility that this new medium may swallow up the whole parameter of printed newspapers someday; but at least for now, there is still room for survival for the printed newspapers, whether it is in the west or east. According to a recent market survey by Nielsen Scarborough, 51 percent of news readers in the US still prefer printed newspapers and remaining 49 percent go for one digital platform or another.

Digital advantage

Traditionally what we found in general is that the profile of newspaper readers is more of an educated, affluent and older population. However, after the advent of digital media, this tradition has been changed as newspapers have attracted younger readers too. So, this is an added advantage for the printed newspapers. And we can say that the audience of newspapers is expanded, inviting more educated, affluent and younger hordes than ever. Let’s take a look at the current US market where 13 percent of the country’s population is 70 years or above; this age group accounts for only 15 percent of the total newspaper audience in the country.

It is clear that the adoption of digital platform has accelerated newspaper houses to a new direction, reaching out to readers of all age groups. Observation of this new trend and the tradition of the newspaper industry over the last decade or so, particularly in the US, it indicates that younger generations are now accounted for greater percentage of the population of newspaper readers in the country. Fascinatingly, 25 percent of the country’s population falls in the age group of 21-34, representing 24 percent of the total monthly newspaper readers.

As dominance in newspaper readership has been changed from elderly crowd to younger lot, it is said that the credit must go to ‘digital’. In an overall study of the digital audience in the US, the readers are likely to be college graduates who have annual household incomes over US$100,000, when we compare with those who don’t read newspapers. The survey report further indicates that the digital newspaper readers are 49 percent more likely to be youngsters than general adult population.

Undying value of printed newspapers

As long as the dying of printed newspapers is concerned, there is an equal amount of undying perception of this traditional news media format. Since a half of newspaper readers in the US still go for printed newspaper copies, positive vibe in this is that around 40 percent of them are in the age group of 18-34 years who enjoy reading news in printed format every week. If we enumerate it in terms of figure, more than 123 million adults in the US read a printed newspaper. Here the upshot is that it’s too early to declare the ‘end of the printed newspapers’ in the west.

When it comes to considering the value of printed newspapers, India is where the optimism nestled and it has been observed that vernacular dailies and tabloids are gaining a new ground in the country at regional domains. In this respect, Nielsen Scarborough says its market research findings encourage publishers and advertisers to recognise the audiences of printed newspaper in a channelised manner, because they (readers) are still large, upscale and viable for years or decades to come.


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