by: Josh Hawkins
Today at the Newspaper Association of America conference in San Diego, publishers from across the country have convened to discuss the future of the newspaper industry. Once a strong print business sector, newspapers are now struggling with declining circulation, shrinking classified advertising dollars, and a proliferation of competitive online news sources.
While there's no question that newspapers face significant challenges, the industry also finds itself at a crossroads that presents a significant opportunity for these businesses to evolve and grow.
Brightcove has a unique perspective on the newspaper media sector. Brightcove works with more than 30 major newspaper publishers across North America, Europe and Asia. In the United States, Brightcove newspaper customers include Cox Newspapers, Freedom Communications, Hearst Communications, Media News Group, New York Times Co. and New York Times Regional Newspapers, Tribune Total Media, Washington Post, among others.
Over the past two years, we have seen a number of interesting trends emerge, one of the most significant being the recent surge in Brightcove platform usage by our newspaper customer segment. While there's retrenchment in some parts of newspaper organizations, other parts are growing, especially in digital media publishing and online monetization. Despite the lowered forecasts, eMarketer is still predicting upwards of five percent growth in digital media advertising this year. This number is closer to 45 percent for online video advertising. Newspapers recognize the opportunity and continue to invest in growth.
In fact, newsrooms are training staffers in videography, hiring ex-television producers to boost the production value of their video products, and delivering full-screen, HD-quality content through their websites.
Looking at just our US newspaper customers, we analyzed data from 187 newspaper websites to get a better handle on how this industry segment is evolving and taking advantage of digital media. Here's what we found:
Newspapers are producing more video: The number of videos uploaded by each newspaper into the Brightcove platform grew from an average of 186 videos per month in 2007 to an average of 638 videos per month in 2008. For the year, the total number of uploaded videos grew by nearly 1500 percent in 2008.
Newspapers are distributing more video on more webpages: In 2007, the number of Brightcove-powered video player-loads on each newspaper website in our sample jumped from an average of 169,093 per month to an average of 964,144 per month in 2008. In 2008, the total video player loads on newspaper websites grew by more than 700 percent.
Consumers are watching more video on newspaper websites: Video streams from our newspaper customers are growing an average of more than 35 percent quarter over quarter. Last quarter, Brightcove’s newspaper customers did 42,777,231 video streams, compared to 15,311,542 video streams the same quarter last year. In 2008, we saw 365 percent growth in total video streams among newspaper customers.
Newspapers are monetizing video distribution: Nearly 100 percent of our newspaper customers have enabled advertising for their online video content. The dominant ad format is the 30 second pre-roll video ads with 300x250 companion banners and an increasing number of these customers are partnering with third-party ad networks to help sell and optimization yield on their video inventory.
This growth is being driven by a number of factors. Lower video production costs, higher-quality video delivery, the availability of on-demand platforms like Brightcove versus building in-house solutions, the influx of ad dollars to the Web, and the ongoing migration of consumers from traditional print and broadcast and online media outlets.
There are also a number of best practices and innovations that are helping to accelerate this growth especially over the past year.
Newspapers are producing more video in conjunction with their reporting, and consumers now expect to see a mix of media (text, images, audio, video) woven together in the context of almost every website experience. Therefore, videos are increasingly embedded in a wider range of editorial features on newspaper websites.
In 2008, Brightcove introduced a series of innovations that enable online video publishers to optimize Flash video for discovery through standard text-based search engines, which drives consumer traffic to webpages with video players. The Brightcove platform features also enable newspapers to connect video experiences to other website features, such as social media applications that help build community and drive traffic.
An increasing number of newspapers are taking advantage of online video syndication capabilities which enable them to distribute promotional content to third-party websites, blogs, social networks, and portals in an effort to drive traffic back to newspaper websites and video players.
While the data and trends point to many positive signs, the question remains whether newspaper publishers will be able to ramp their digital initiatives and evolve their operations in time to save their businesses and ensure a growth position when they come out on the other side of the current recession. Based on what we're seeing among our newspaper customers, we're confident online video and digital media will be a driving force in the necessary transformation of the industry and hold the potential for a bright future.