It would be easy, very easy, to make plans and investments if the transition to digital publishing proceeded at some steady, comforting pace. Yet, Charlotte Miller from Ovum reports, “the resilience of print, despite the growth of mobile and digital consumption, may still be underestimated.
“At an aggregated level, combining revenues from the newspaper, book and magazine industries across more than 50 markets around the world, we forecast that just 24 per cent will come from digital in 2020 – up from 14 per cent in 2015 … So in terms of both consumer and advertiser spend, in spite of a decline in print revenue and all the investment in (and noise around) digital, print will continue to dominate.”
The printing presses “won’t be closing any time soon, even in the US and the UK, where the transition to digital is more rapid”. In those two markets, digital will still only account for a minority of overall revenue in 2020, with shares of 42 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. Of course print “continues to decline in nearly every category and nearly every market”; digital “is where the growth lies, with mobile as the major driver of change. The challenge for publishers, then, is about maximising legacy print revenues while seeking to grow those from digital as rapidly as possible. But are they too quick to kill off their legacy businesses? Publishers must continue to innovate in the digital space …but they can’t afford to kill off print just yet.”