Kubas: Newspapers will have a tough 2009

Kubas Consultants, the exceptional Canadian newspaper industry advisory firm, has produced its Preview 2009 and it suggests a very challenging year ahead for North American papers.

An excerpt of the report, which surveyed 400 Canadian and U.S. newspaper executives, written by Ed Strapagiel:

2009 Advertising Revenues

  • There is a very negative outlook regarding newspaper advertising revenues in 2009. More  executives and managers project decreases rather than increases in 7 out of 8 ad revenue categories.
  • Not only do newspaper executives and managers project weakness, the severity of expected declines is remarkable. The outlook has very much deteriorated compared to a year ago.
  • Online revenue is still expected to grow in 2009, but it is the only positive area. Even so, recent trends indicate that this may be a challenge.
  • Employment is slated to be the next disaster area, which is particularly problematic from an ad revenue perspective.
  • All sizes of US newspapers are about equally pessimistic. Canadian newspapers are less pessimistic, but still expect declines in most categories.

2009 Strategic Initiatives

  • Developing online, in terms of both content and advertising programs, is still very high on the  list of strategic initiatives for 2009.
  • Controlling both staff and non-staff costs has declined slightly, but perhaps mostly because many newspapers have already done so. Nevertheless, there’s still more of this to come.
  • Format reduction is also popular. About a third of newspapers have already done so, and most of the rest have definite plans in this area.
  • Improving rate structures and pricing programs has moved up to #2 on the list.
  • Last year’s enthusiasm for niche publications appears to have cooled off.
  • About 1 in 5 newspapers is considering outsourcing printing and closing their own plant.”

A report on the report is here, which links to the report itself in PDF.