State of the Media: Q2 2010

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July 23: The media has continued to innovate as we make our way through 2010. Emerging technologies are being embraced while the online spectrum increasingly becomes more prevalent. Trends from the first quarter of 2010 have continued into the second, proving the media has staying power despite the serious setbacks of the previous year.

Last year, the magazine industry saw more magazines fold than launch. Starting in Q1, that downward trend reversed and has continued into Q2 as approximately 63 magazines launched, while 41 total magazines ceased publication. The trade publication industry took the biggest hit with 27 closing shop. Niches that are proving to be survivors include the food and domestic lifestyle categories, which had numerous launches, including Edible Wasatch in Utah and Edible Madison in Wisconsin, The Quilt Life, Chic Mom Magazine and Redoux Home. Meanwhile, approximately 13 magazines went the route of online-only.

Advertising has even made a comeback. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, total magazine pages and ad rate card-reported revenue made gains in the second quarter for the first time in nine quarters. The second quarter of 2010 closed with a 5.7 percent increase of magazine rate card-reported advertising revenue compared to the same time in 2009. “While there are some wild and wonderful developments in digital for magazines, for now, print still holds the biggest piece of the pie for readership – at least outside of Manhattan,” said Rebecca Bredholt, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group.

Like magazines, newspaper launches have been more plentiful than closures in Q2. Online is the hot trend in newspaperland with roughly 43 of 49 debuts being online-only. Dominating the launch scene has been Aol’s, which launched approximately 37 new sites in the second quarter. Several months ago, announced it would add hundreds of sites before 2011. Others to launch online include the Bay Citizen as well as the Pocono Business Journal, which folded in January as a print product, but reappeared in April as an online publication. In comparison to last year when several major metro papers folded, only one major newspaper was lost so far this year, when the Honolulu Advertiser merged with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin to become the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Meanwhile, the New York Times, Media General and Journal Communications have even reported revenue gains.

At the same time, new technologies are on the horizon in TV, or have already started to be marketed, such as 3D TV. Google TV announced in June that people might soon be surfing the Web from their television screens, allowing viewers to access anything online, from a list of past and present episodes of favorite TV shows to social media sites.

In line with the advancements in TV entertainment and print’s adoptions of applications for e-readers and smart phones, radio has also continued to embrace new technology. Many local radio stations have created software applications to deliver talk and music programming to consumers with iPhones, Blackberries and Droids, noted Kyle Johnson, managing editor of radio content for Vocus Media Research Group.

“Clear Channel, the number one radio company in the U.S., introduced the iHeartRadio app last year and estimates that phone users account for about 10 percent of their digital audience,” he said. “They expect that number to double by the end of the year. And a study released by Bridge Ratings suggests that radio stations that are not ready to adapt to consumers’ desire for mobile and online platforms need to get with the program.”

Even NPR released an iPhone app, with content that offers live performances and interviews from NPR Music. “To further illustrate its changing face in the media landscape, National Public Radio announced earlier this month that it will now be known simply as NPR, because the company is more than radio,” he said.

Indeed, news mediums are increasingly converging online as print and broadcast both adapt in a multimedia world. And despite some layoffs and other cutbacks that have made headlines in 2010, the media industry remains a rapidly changing environment with new advancements, business models and ideas moving it in an overall positive direction.

— Katrina M. Mendolera

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