Home Publishers News Corp Earnings Illustrate The News Industry’s Ad Woes

News Corp Earnings Illustrate The News Industry’s Ad Woes


News orgs are still struggling to monetize with ads, if News Corp’s earnings report on Wednesday is any indication.

The company’s total Q3 revenue – it operates on a different fiscal calendar than most companies – was $2.42 billion, down 1% YOY. This was due in large part to a decline in ad revenue across its News Media and Dow Jones publishing groups.

The hardest hit segment was News Media, which includes the News Corp Australia, News UK and New York Post brands. It saw ad revenue drop 13% YOY to $193 million, with decreases in both print and digital ad income.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones division, which includes The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch, had its total ad revenue fall 2% to $86 million. This drop was caused mainly by an 11% decrease in print ad sales, while digital ads actually grew by 4%. (The company didn’t offer an explanation for the growth in digital ads, and no investor asked for one.)

Overall, advertising’s share of News Corp’s business has been shrinking for the past decade. This shift reflects how news publishers have had to look to other revenue streams, such as subscriptions and AI licensing, to offset a lack of support from advertisers.

Subscriptions over ads

The downturn in both print and digital advertising has prompted News Corp to rely more on subscriptions, making up 45% of its business.

Dow Jones’s subscription revenue grew 4%, contributing to a 3% increase in total revenue for the division. Digital subscriptions for Dow Jones properties grew by 17%, representing its largest rate of sequential growth to date.

Meanwhile, advertising accounted for almost half of News Corp’s revenue 10 years ago, but it now accounts for just 16%, said CEO Robert Thomson.

And advertising from the News Media group, which was News Corp’s largest source of revenue a decade ago, now accounts for just 8% of its total income, Thomson emphasized, citing the figure twice. Half of that comes from News Media’s digital ads.

The major culprit behind News Media’s ad revenue decline was a dip in referral traffic from search and social – an issue that’s plaguing all sorts of publishers, not just news orgs.


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For example, News Corp called out that two of the News Media division’s brands have seen YOY decreases in traffic. The Sun’s digital properties reached 126 million global monthly unique users in Q3, which was down from 199 million this time last year. And the New York Post reached 125 million monthly unique views this quarter, compared to 147 million last year.

Generative AI

In addition to subscriptions, AI is another source of optimism for News Corp (and seemingly every other publicly traded publisher).

Thomson called out the company’s partnership with Google, which was recently extended, as a cornerstone of its plans to benefit from the technology. As part of the partnership, which dates back to 2021, News Corp publications are featured in the Google News Showcase.

Although Thomson declined to share specifics, it’s been reported that, per the renewed deal, Google is paying News Corp between $5 million and $6 million a year to develop AI-related content and AI-based products.

As an example of the kind of AI tools News Corp is creating, Dow Jones launched its first AI-based product, a research assistant called Integrity Check, in March. It creates automated due diligence reports on individuals and companies based on Dow Jones’ reporting and investment data.

However, this solution is built on AI tech provided by Xapien, not Google, perhaps demonstrating News Corp may be wary of putting all its eggs in Google’s basket.

Thomson also stressed that the Google deal does not cover licensing content for training AI models. “Any negotiations for that particular use of our content will come later,” he said, suggesting such a deal is not off the table.

Some news orgs, including The New York Times and a consortium of local newspapers, have taken a more oppositional stance with AI companies, suing them for scraping their content.

But News Corp is “wooing, not suing,” Thomson said on the company’s previous earnings call – and it’s not alone.

Other news publishers are also looking to AI partnerships as a source of growth and an alternative revenue driver beyond advertising. However, these deals do include licensing content for training AI, whereas News Corp’s doesn’t. The Associated Press, Axel Springer, the Financial Times and Semafor are just a few examples.

And non-news publishers, like Dotdash Meredith and Reddit, are doing the same.

That trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Update 5/10/24: This story has been updated to add additional context on the scope of News Corp’s partnership with Google.

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