“Print continues to thrive”
The Future of Media whitepaper
FIPP, in collaboration with UPM Communication Papers, recently released a whitepaper, The Future of Media. It looks into the value print adds, and how it fits into the wider publishing ecosystem.
The whitepaper states that “despite the emergence of digital channels, print continues to thrive.” It explores strategies of publishers around the world who continue to put print at the heart of their offerings.
For many publishers, the question is not ‘print or digital?’ It is ‘What role does print play in the print, digital and experiential — a mix that allows us to maximize audience engagement, cross-selling and revenue generation?’
Print’s new role:
According to the whitepaper, rumors of the death of print media have been vastly exaggerated. It mentions that 58% of subscribers still describe themselves as primarily print-oriented, and 60–80% of publisher revenues are still generated from print.
MPA’s Magazine Media Factbook 2018–2019 states that in the United States, “The top 25 print magazines reach more adults and teens than the top 25 prime time shows. And, despite generational differences, magazine consumption is strong.”
The New York Times reports that its own base of print subscribers is holding fairly steady. There’s only been slight declines year over year, despite its digital subscriber base growing by 265,000 in the 4th quarter of 2018 alone, according to FIPP’s 2019 Global Digital Subscription Snapshot. The Times remains committed to serving its print subscribers.
The whitepaper suggests that print’s resilience is being driven by its ability to fit in with and alongside a universe that combines all platforms. Successful magazines have reinvented themselves as brands that serve their audience via a range of channels, of which print is just one. This started with the same content being made available in print, online and later on, mobile.
Troy Young, President of Hearst Magazines, says, “Print is heavily edited and curated and it’s like an event that happens once a month.” He adds, “Print plays a really important role in saying this is important and this has a place in culture, and take a moment to think and read about this and consume it. And I think our magazines are going to play an important role in how we do that for a long, long time.”
The BBC History magazine has a print circulation of 100,000 and has been in business since 2000. According to its staff writer Ellie Cawthorne, “The ideal scenario is not print or digital, but a print and digital mix, all of which are adding to the experience for the consumer.”
She adds, “We start with an idea and what comes out of it is a relevant feature for print, an online video or podcast, and debate through social channels. That’s offering a full experience for all — and it demonstrates the value of a true print and digital mix.”
The 360 model
Bauer, the publisher of newsstand titles such as TV Choice, Take a break, Bella and That’s life, is renowned for its print-title heritage. Rob Munro-Hall, Group Managing Director at Bauer Media says, “We’re quite unusual in that a large part of our business is still powered by big, weekly publications — often still with a low cover price, high volume and a reliance on the newsstand.
“That’s still a big chunk of our business. If you take TV Choice, for example, we are still selling millions of copies a week, through the newsstand, in a very traditional way.”