News Corp, the publisher of newspapers including The Times and The Sun, has reported a 2.8% decline in revenues for the quarter ending 30th September 2013 with a decline in advertising being blamed for the decrease.
In the first quarter since News Corp was split into a highly successful entertainment company and a less profitable publishing business earlier this year, the latter’s net income rose from a loss of $83 million last year to a profit of $38 million. However, year-on-year annual sales actually fell from $2.13 billion to $2.07 billion, falling short of the $2.18 billion total predicted by analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The news division, whose portfolio includes titles in the US, the UK and Australia, saw advertising fall 12 percent and revenues from circulation and subscription decrease by 6 percent with the Australian papers accounting for the largest decline (a 22% drop in sales).
In response to the results, Robert Thompson, News Corp’s chief executive, was keen to highlight that the company is in a period of transition with the brands’ evolution into digital content providers key to its future: “Our first quarter as the new News was the beginning of a journey in the digital development of the company. We […] are transforming our publishing operations longer-term into multi-platform businesses [and] we are even more convinced the company will thrive as the company becomes more digital.”
Paid websites represent a key part of this strategy – it is now three years since The Times and Sunday Times websites went behind a paywall with The Sun following suit earlier this year. While it has been a controversial approach at odds with that of the highly successful Guardian and Daily Mail sites, News UK argue that the indisputable reduction in visitors is compensated for by the quality of the data they have on their subscribers and, therefore, the level of targeting which they can offer advertisers. However, from Four’s point-of-view, this reduced traffic makes it difficult to reach a sufficient number of people on more niche areas of the site relevant to our clients, such as the Property section.
In addition, News UK has identified the iPad and tablet apps as central to a strong digital offering, with increased functionality and a wider range of creative advertising solutions being planned for 2014. With Tesco’s £119 Hudl tablet tipped to be a strong seller this Christmas, we believe that a presence on apps will become increasingly important to many of our clients in the coming months.