Archive for October, 2009

Online TV stakes out pay/commercial model

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Don’ t look for Time Warner’s TV Everywhere, “an attempt to make broadcast and cable programming available online, on-demand and free with a cable subscription,” to be a free ride once the cable bill is paid. AdAge takes a look at the venture based on panel discussions at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit in Denver.

The advertising model calls for a full load of commercials.  “Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting, said a typical on-air episode of ‘The Closer’ runs 18 ads, which is why it makes little to no revenue sense for the network to run the same episode online with a third of the same commercials against it. ‘If I can get 4.5 times my TV CPM online (the cost to advertisers to reach 1,000 viewers), I’d be happy and wouldn’t need to do anything,’ he said. ‘But nobody’s getting four times TV CPMs online. Nobody at Hulu’s getting twice the TV CPMs. If people who already watch the show see it with a full commercial load, it’s still a chance to catch up on shows they miss.’

Over at Hulu, the ad-supported online-television site jointly owned by NBC Universal, News Corp. and Walt Disney, CEO Jason Kilar was cited widely last week for implying that a paid model was in the works. “We are capitalists. That’s why we’re Hulu.com and not Hulu.org. We’re very proud of the path we’re on now in terms of monetizing content. With our business model … the revenue needed to support that is anything but free.”

“Comcast and Time Warner Cable have both launched early trials of TV Everywhere,” AdAge says, “including a summer test in 15,000 Comcast households that included 17 cable networks. It’s been estimated that 30 million to 40 million cable households will be ready for authentication by summer 2010.”

Newspapers still being sold by the millions

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Daniel Gross, wrting for Slate’s Moneybox, is not so shaken by this week’s reports showing double-digit declines in newspaper circulation over the past six month.

First, it’s the economy, (stupid). “Many other components of consumer discretionary spending — hotels, restaurants, air travel — have fallen off significantly. Do we draw a line from trends over the last few years and declare that in 15 years there will be only a handful of hotels?”

Second, as others have reported, publishers have raised single-copy and subscription prices, which naturally has driven some buyers away. “If raising subscription costs by 11 percent causes 10 percent of customers to flee, a newspaper will find that its circulation revenues are stable while it saves a lot of money by manufacturing a smaller number of newspapers.”

Meanwhile, by cutting costs newspapers have even shown a profit. “This is the new emerging model — cutting costs, raising prices. It may still fail in the end. But we shouldn’t act as if the online-only crowd has it all figured out. Every month, several million Americans pay to have newspapers and magazines delivered to their homes — a trick most online publications have yet to pull off.”

How would you describe your pain?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

In addition to a couple of charts about circulation trends and reporting about them, The Awl has compiled New York Times headlines from reports about newspaper circulation since 1994 (scroll down for the heds).

Says the author, “Reading through them in chronological order, it’s …  like ‘meh bad same same same worser hey better worse worse OH GOD WORSE MUCH WORSE PANIC.’ “

Can the New York Times find some fat?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The New York Times is looking for 100 employees to take a buyout package by December 7, and one of the Times’ actual packages sent to every employee has landed in the hands of The New York Observer’s John Koblin. “[D]epending on your perspective,” he says, its contents is “either impressive or absolutely mind-boggling.”

The buyout offer is “generally three weeks pay per year of service, and up to two years pay for longtime employees.”  The general McClatchy offer, for comparison, is one week of pay per year of service up to 26 weeks.

Beyond the buyout offer, the package lists the number of employees in each job in the company, Koblin says. Among those listed:

Editors at the Book Review: 14

Reporters at Metro: 50

Size of the Opinion/Editorial Department: 49

Size of Sports Desk: 57

Critics in the Culture Department: 18

Editors at The Times Magazine: 21

Total size of Art Department: 113

We hesitated to use this piece because we don’t have solid numbers for comparison from, say, The News & Observer. But let’s just say it’s a hell of a lot less.

Charlotte Observer circulation falls 13%

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

The Charlotte Observer, the largest daily newspaper in the Carolinas, says it lost 13 percent of daily circulation over the last six months and 10 percent of Sunday circulation. The result is a daily circulation of 167,585 and a Sunday circulation of 227,916.

“In the auditors’ category of reach, which reflects digital traffic and measures the average audience for seven days print circulation and 30 days online, the Observer went to 1,076,811 in the designated metropolitan market area, a 4 percent increase year-to-year,” the paper said Tuesday.

Average daily circulation at 379 U.S. newspapers plunged 10.6 percent in the April-September 2009 compared to  the same six-month stretch last year, according to figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer in Raleigh are owned by the McClatchy Company. The News & Observer reported an 11.8 percent decline in daily circualtion and a 6.2 percent decline in Sunday circulation (see previous post).

N&O circulation drop outstrips national trend

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

The News & Observer is reporting a decline in daily circulation over the past six months that exceeds the national average.

The Raleigh paper’s Monday-through-Friday circulation dropped 11.8 percent to 139,826 over six months through September, from 158,575 for the same period in 2008. Sunday circulation dropped 6.2 percent to 193,010 from 205,662 in 2008.

Audit Bureau of Circulations figures released Monday show that average daily circulation nationwide dropped 10.6 percent in the April-September period from the same six-month span in 2008. Sunday circulation fell 7.5 percent.

N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III said in an e-mail to employees Monday that he “hopes you will see [the figures] in a realistic, rather than pessimistic, light.”

Quarles says that, as a cost-cutting measure, the company has devoted less of an effort to circulation sales and has increased prices. They have also eliminated many third-party sales of the paper and Newspaper in Education print copies.  Third-party papers are bought by an advertiser, homeowners group, or an event group and re-distributed.

Other circulation, NIE and third party were down 26 percent daily and 29 percent Sunday for the reporting period, Quarles wrote.

“Sunday paid circulation among home-delivery subscribers, a key measure watched closely by our advertisers, remains strong. In fact, Scarborough Research shows that The N&O has more Sunday readers than ever in the four-county Greater Triangle, and that readership is more affluent than ever,” Quarles’ memo continues.

“Our interactive traffic, which is combined with our paid circulation to achieve a net combined audience number, remained strong, with 2.3 million unique visitors and 14 million page views – an increase over the previous six months.

“I realize that these numbers are not encouraging, but I hope the information I have shared will help you see them in context. And please do not forget that we are the leading source of news and information to the Triangle and beyond, and we continue to offer effective and innovative marketing solutions to our advertisers.”

In the N&O’s article about the figures, Jim Puryear, vice president of circulation, also says the new e-edition of the paper, an online reproduction of the printed paper’s pages that launched in July, has 700 daily subscribers and 300 Sunday subscribers.

Tribune and friends aim for luxe advertisers

Monday, October 26th, 2009

A day after the New York Times reported that national ad campaigns are shunning newspaper Web sites, Ad Age says the Tribune Co. is forming a consortium to attract luxury retail advertising.

“Tribune Co., which publishes the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel and other papers, has enlisted the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News in a new initiative called LX365 aimed at attracting national ad buys from the luxe likes of Chanel, Gucci and Prada, a group that has generally shunned papers other than The New York Times.

“The seven-paper group will sell access to all the newsprint, glossy and digital platforms its partner papers offer in a one-stop-shopping format intended to make it easier for luxury advertisers to make the sort of broad national buy via newspapers that’s long been considered too arduous by many media buyers.”

Newspaper circulation declines

Monday, October 26th, 2009

The latest six-month survey of newspaper circulation in America shows a double-digit loss among average daily circulation, “one of the most severe drops in overall circulation,” according to Editor & Publisher.

Monday’s Audit Bureau of Circulations report shows “that for the 379 newspapers filing with the organization, average daily circulation plunged 10.6 percent to 30,395,652 … [and] Sunday circulation for 562 reporting newspapers was down 7.4 percent to 40,012,253″ compared to the same six months a year ago.

In addition to failing reader interest in print newspapers, E&P says publishers are purposely distributing fewer hotel, employee and third-party sponsored copies, and general distribution routes pretty much stick the core market.

“Another shift has occurred: volume has taken a back seat to dollars,” the trade journal says.

“Several major newspapers across the country have aggressively hiked prices of single-copy and home-delivered papers in search of circulation revenue and a renewed focus on loyal readers. Circulation is guaranteed to go down as prices go up, but publishers have opted to wring more revenue from readers as advertisers keep their coffers closed.

“… In Q3, circulation revenue grew 6.7 percent at McClatchy, 11 percent at Media General, and 6.7 percent at The New York Times Co.”

E&P lists the top 25 daily papers in the country, led by The Wall Street Journal, with a circulation of 2,024,269, and the top 25 Sunday papers, led by The New York Times, with a circulation of 1,400,302. The Journal shows 0.61 percent growth, but the rest are down compared to the previous survey or were not on the earlier top 25 list.

Leading the top 25 circulation gainers was the York (Pa.) Daily Record, growing by 16.45 percent to a circulation of 55,370.

And then there’s the top 25 combined print and online growth, with the Greensburg (Pa.) Tribune-Review at the top of the heap with a 13.58 percent increase, and McClatchy’s Charlotte Observer latching on at No. 24 with 4.41 percent growth. The Greensboro News-Record showed 6.41 percent combined print and online circulation/readership growth, ranking 8th on the list.

Follow the hearing – if you can find it

Monday, October 26th, 2009

The News & Observer, which has done great work exposing what looks like corruption in the Easley administration, promises live video of the Board of Elections hearings into the matter, starting today. But, see if you can find it from the info box on newsobserver.com copied about 10:30 a.m. Monday below:

“The Board of Elections hearing involving former Gov. Mike Easley starts today and could last all week. We’ll have all the coverage you need at newsobserver .com and in our daily print editions:

Video: Live video streaming at newsobserver.com.

Online: Regular updates on our home page and more coverage at our new Investigations blog at blogs.newsobserver.com/investigations, where you can also catch up on our coverage of Easley. You’ll find additional news at projects.newsobserver.com/dome.

Print: Deep reports on each day’s events from J. Andrew Curliss and Dan Kane, plus columns from Rob Christensen.”

The first question you might ask yourself is “When does the  hearing start?” Or, perhaps you’d just click on the link at “Video,” figuring that will set you up. But, it only goes to the homepage.

We saw a note on one of WTVD’s digital channels that said their coverage starts at 5 p.m., which seemed odd, so we went to the Election Board’s Web site, where we found the board’s notice that says the hearing starts at 11 a.m.

Update: a large “Breaking News” block with a link to The N&O’s live video stream was posted to the top of newsobserver.com’s home page at 10:46 a.m. Monday.

National ads don’t stick with online newspapers

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Though newspaper executives have held out hope that online revenue would make up for plummeting print revenue, the figures show that newspaper sites are not holding onto national ad campaigns, even while overall Internet advertising is creeping back, The New York Times said Sunday.

Advertisers introduce national campaigns on news sites, the Times says, and then follow up with cheaper ads all over the Web through networks and exchanges like Advertising.com from AOL and DoubleClick Ad Exchange from Google, which dominate the buying and selling of extra space. The Yahoo and Google sites also seem to be winning more display advertising revenue, the Times said.

“’You get the big audience reach on your national brands, and you guarantee that by buying USA Today or The Times or other properties. And a secondary buy, you buy inexpensive, low-c.p.m. ad networks,’ said Chris Saridakis, senior vice president and chief digital officer of Gannett, using the industry shorthand for cost per thousand times an ad is shown. A display ad that might cost $10 to $20 per thousand at a site like USAToday.com could cost around half that amount when it is bought across an ad network of similar sites.”

It’s also helpful – to the advertiser – that high-end sites cannot sell all their ad space right now and so they hand off the extra to networks.

The McClatchy Company was an exception among early third-quarter revenue reports, showing that online advertising revenue rose 3.1 percent from a year ago, though the rate of growth slowed.

Christian A. Hendricks, McClatchy’s vice president of interactive media, attributed the rise to the company’s focus on online-only ads and its selling of local ads, rather than national brand campaigns.