Ajit newspaper reports that Canadian newspaper business has faced a “dramatic slowdown” in recent years, citing a recent survey showing that fewer than half of Canadian newspaper subscribers read them daily.
In a report published by The Canadian Press (CP), Ajit’s executive director of communications, Scott Wooten, said that the print sector has seen a 20 per cent drop in subscriber count since 2011.
“In the first quarter of 2017, the average number of readership for the country’s five major print magazines was 2,974, a decline of 10 per cent from the same quarter a year earlier,” the report states.
“The overall decline in readership was even more dramatic in smaller cities and towns.”
Wooten said the industry was “not in a position to compete with online sources such as Amazon and Google News” for readers.
However, the report also found that online publishers have been able to “rebuild their subscriber base” thanks to a combination of advertising and digital content that helps drive “growth”.
“Our survey found that while print publishers have faced a number of challenges in the past few years, they are now seeing a dramatic slowdown,” the paper states.
According to the CP, the sector has been suffering from a “disorderly and sometimes toxic” environment since 2012.
The paper reported that the decline in the number of subscribers to newspapers and magazines has been largely attributed to a rise in the price of newspapers and the increasing number of online publications that have become available in recent times.
At the same time, a growing number of Canadians have opted to buy newspapers from the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook, which have increased their revenues.
While the newspaper industry is not the only one to suffer, the “unintended consequences” of the industry’s decline are “unprecedented”, Wootens said.
It is “in the interest of all Canadians to be able to read our newspaper content on a regular basis,” he said.
“But the decline of readerships to print has had a significant impact on the quality and quantity of news that Canadians receive.”
“The decline of Canadian newspapers to online publications has also had a large impact on our news-gathering capacity,” he continued.
Woots added that the paper is also looking to address the issues that the industry faces with regard to digital content and advertising.
“[The] digital landscape is a huge concern to us, but we have to balance the digital landscape with the physical environment, and we will continue to do so,” he concluded.
Ajit is one of a handful of Canadian publishers to report lower revenue and subscriber counts in the first half of 2017 compared to the previous quarter.
But it is not just the newspaper sector that is suffering.
The CP also reported that online digital publishers, which were able to gain market share over the last few years have been unable to keep pace with the industry.
With a total market value of $5.6 billion, digital publishers accounted for 16.2 per cent of the Canadian market.
Meanwhile, online content publishers have grown significantly in recent quarters, reaching $9.2 billion in 2017.
A new study by CQ Economics also showed that Canadians’ consumption of digital media has increased by 8.4 per cent in the last 12 months.
For the first time, more Canadians are using mobile devices than desktop computers in 2017, according to CQ’s research.