Newspaper Ad Revenue Down 55% Since Historic Peak in 2005

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 5, 2013 | 10:39pm EDT


(AP Photo)

( - Total advertising revenues for U.S. newspapers have dropped 55 percent since hitting an historical peak in 2005—a fact that has now been punctuated by the back-to-back bargain-basement sales of the Boston Globe and the Washington Post.

In 2005, the nation’s newspapers brought in a record $49.435 billion in combined total ad revenue, according to data published by the Newspaper Association of America.

By 2012, according to the data, total newspaper ad revenue had plummeted to $22.314 billion, a drop of 55 percent--as advertising collapsed in the print editions of newspapers and was not replaced by revenue from online advertising.

Put bluntly, the Internet is killing American newspapers.

The Newspaper Association of America has published total ad revenue figures for U.S. newspapers dating back to 1950.

According to those figures, overall newspaper print ad revenues climbed from $2.07 billion in 1950 to 47.408 billion in 2005. That year, newspapers also took in $2.027 billion in online advertising, bringing total print and online newspaper advertising to a record $49.435 billion.

Since 2005, newspaper print advertising revenues have dropped precipitously as online revenues have picked up only slightly.

In 2012, the latest year for which there is data, newspaper print advertising revenues were $18.931 billion—down from their peak of 47.408 billion in 2005. Newspaper online revenues, however, were only $3.370 billion, up from $2.027 billion in 2005.

The combined  $22.314 billion in print and online newspaper ad revenue in 2012 was down 55 percent ($27.121 billion) from the peak combined print and online ad revenues of $49.435 billion in 2005.

Last week, the New York Times announced it was selling the Boston Globe for $70 million—after buying the paper for $1.1 billion in 1993. This week, the Washington Post Co. announced that it was selling the newspaper to founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million.

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