Australian news media brands saw a record readership of 18.2 million, reaching more than nine in 10 Australians (96%), but the industry continues to struggle for revenue due to the continued disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rise in readership, the highest since Emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) was established in 2013, was fueled by Australians seeking reliable and trusted news and information during COVID-19, consumption digital news media being the main driver.
Across all digital platforms measured, news media reached 17.2 million Australians, representing 91% of the population aged 14 and over, a 10% increase in audience compared to the previous period (December 19). Despite the pandemic, print media audiences continued to reach 12.7 million, or two in three Australians (67%).
NewsMediaWorks CEO Peter Miller said misinformation was rampant during the pandemic, but the figures show Australians know how to turn to trusted news media outlets when accuracy and trust are key.
“As we begin to emerge from lockdown, the need for reliable and timely information will continue and for businesses looking to bounce back by advertising across credible media channels, the halo of trust generated by the news media will play a crucial role in their recovery,” he added. .
However, the record consumption of news content comes as media around the world struggle to reconcile spikes in readership with falling ad revenue. Many brands have reduced or halted their advertising plans for the year.
WARC’s recent Global Ad Trends report estimates a 30.9% drop in newspaper advertising spending, with the overall advertising market contracting by 8.1% or A$1.8 billion in 2020.
In Australia, News Corp recently announced that a total of 112 print newspapers will shut down presses, including 36 that will shut down completely and 76 that will remain at the masthead online. News Corp will not specify how many employees each title will have, if any, or how many local reports will continue.
Media company chairman Michael Miller said newspapers would go digital as the impact of the coronavirus hit ad spend that keeps print newspapers afloat.
“Our review of the portfolio highlighted that many of our printed mastheads were contested, and the dual impact of COVID-19 and tech platforms not paying the local publisher whose content they profit from, unfortunately rendered these publications unsustainable,” he added.
Additionally, BuzzFeed announced on May 14 that it would shut down its news operations in the UK and Australia to focus on its US operations. Earlier this year, the Australian Associated Press, a newswire that was partly owned by News Corp, announced it was closing after 85 years.
Source: BBC, NewsMediaWorks, Business Insider, The Guardian