Even across its global sample, news publishers are still earning all but eight per cent of their revenue from print.
And in India – where WAN-Ifra editor-in-chief Dean Roper was addressing the Indian Media Leaders eSummit today, that proportion may of course be higher.
Even publishers such as the New York Times had been adversely affected by the pandemic, with advertising revenue down 26 per cent and that for print down 39 per cent.
“Some forecasts suggest this year won’t be as bad,” Roper said, adding that this year’s World Press Trends survey – based on 100 publishers’ responses – indicated digital circulation revenue up 23 per cent and newspapers’ website traffic “at historic levels”.
The trend report came at the start of the eSummit, which continues until Wednesday. WAN-Ifra South Asia director KN Shanth Kumar – who is a director of The Printers Mysore – said the succession of first and second wave pandemic, with the impact of disruption “increased in speed and intensity” stressed the urgent need to prepare for a digital future.
“The digital space is very different – revenues will never match print – and the question is therefore how to adapt and set goals,” he added, with the eSummit’s array of business leader speakers set to throw light on the subject.
With his computer frozen, Dean Roper struggled to communicate with the conference’s 250 registered delegates, but offered a mix of optimism and gloom.
Despite an increase in digital readership (up 36 per cent), print readership was down 10.8 per cent, leading to an overall fall in revenue of 11 per cent, he said.
With the ‘writing on the wall’, however, some 44.3 per cent of respondents had put ‘accelerating digital transformation’ as their top priority. For most companies, the specifics of that looked like audience first, digital revenue, and product development, a trend seen in top investment priorities.
Some five per cent had reduced staff, and 70 per cent even had plans to invest in print, although mostly in areas such as prepress and press retrofits.
The biggest risk to publishers was seen by 30.6 per cent to be the declining advertising market, followed by their failure to diversify, but two thirds of respondents thought they would fully recover from the pandemic.
Pictured (top): KN Shanth Kumar; (above left) WAN-Ifra South Asia managing director Magdoom Mohamed and Dean Roper