New Study Details COVID-19's Impact on Print Circulation & Digital Subscribers

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Dr. Iris Chyi is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in media economics, and well-known for benchmarking reader demand for the print and digital content provided by major market newspapers.

A few years ago, she caused a stir in the industry by describing through data that the top 50 newspapers' digital content was being perceived as an "inferior good" by their readers. She went on to compare digital non-replica news sites as "ramen noodles" and the print editions to steak, stating that people tend to perceive online newspapers as less likable and less satisfying. In her book, "Trial and Error: U.S. Newspapers' Digital Struggles toward Inferiority," she challenges U.S. newspapers' technology-driven strategy, calling for a critical reassessment of the future of the industry.

In her latest research, "The Impact of COVID-19 on 20 U.S. Newspapers' Print and Digital Circulation," Dr. Chyi takes a hard look at empirical data on the impact of COVID-19 with these selected publications. The report reveals that even though digital subscriptions went up by 64 percent between 2019 and Q3 2020, print circulation dropped by an average of 21 percent. Data showed that the average price charged for digital access is now $181 a year, while seven-day print subscription rates are $1,052 a year. The report states that this price gap shows it takes nearly six new digital subscribers to make up for the loss of one print subscriber.

In this edition of "E&P REPORTS," Dr. Chyi reviews the findings of her April 2021 report with E&P publisher Mike Blinder.

2020 Report: The Impact of Covid-19 on 20 U.S. Newspapers’ Print and Digital Circulation

2017 Report: An Empirical Analysis of 50 U.S. Newspapers’ Digital Subscription Results

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