Consumer Trends in the Media Industry

Print media: Are print subscriptions dying?

We analyzed millions of social data points relating to media and entertainment to find out how consumers are discussing the sector.
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It’s been over two years since the pandemic began, and the world is in a very different place. Consumer confidence has been shaky since the beginning, from saving money back in 2020 to spending recovering in 2021. While some consumers may be feeling a little better than they were in 2020 financially, their insecurities haven’t entirely disappeared. With the cost of living going up worldwide, people are yet again becoming cost-conscious, especially when it comes to paying for “extras” like streaming and subscription services that kept many occupied during the long months of lockdowns.

We looked into what’s changed in how consumers talked about their spending relating to media and entertainment in 2022 and whether the rising cost of living has played a hand in it. 

Print media: Are print subscriptions dying?

Let’s switch gears and start by quoting one Twitter author:

“I ate lunch while reading a newspaper. This shocked my Grade 6 class. “It’s like you’ve never seen a newspaper before,” I said. “That’s because we haven’t,” one of the students replied.”

According to Statista, the average audience of magazine brands (print and digital) in the United States decreased from 691.5m in December 2019 to 642.6m in December 2020. And globally, print subscription revenue is projected to decrease by 2.99% by 2026.

It’s no secret that digital media has been taking over in the last 10 years. But is it too soon to wave goodbye to print newspapers and magazines?

We used Brandwatch Consumer Research to explore posts and conversations where consumers said they buy/order/read/subscribe/pay for newspapers and/or magazines. Looking at 22k mentions relating to consuming print media, we found a number of trends that point to the shifting relationship people have with printed news.


1. Trust

We saw a pattern of distrust in the media shared by many users who mentioned falling out with their favorite, trusted media brands due to a shift in how those media brands convey information. 


2. Value

Value was a big one among consumers, as some of them no longer saw value in traditional media such as newspapers and preferred social media instead.


3. Options

Consumers underlined how they choose what and where they consume media and news and newspapers were frequently out of favor in those conversations.


The ode to print magazines

Defying the odds, and unlike other print media, print magazines proved pretty unshakable in the changing media environment. 

According to this Statista report, in 2020, there were 221.9 million magazine readers aged 18 or older in the United States. This marked a decrease of over six million readers since the previous year. On the other hand, the figure for 2019 was the highest recorded since 2012, and trends during that period indicated a gradual annual increase in the number of magazine readers.

Why did readers say they do buy print media?

With this question in mind, we turned to Brandwatch Consumer Research.

Besides the obvious reasons like habits (eg, grew up watching family read newspapers daily) and some audience members looking for niche topics like science and medicine, there were a few that stood out.

Some consumers would buy a magazine for its inspiring cover that could make a collector’s item – something for publishers to consider.


Supporting favorite artists was another big reason for consumers, especially K-pop fans, who were very vocal on social, encouraging others to buy magazines featuring their idols.

It’s evident that with a growing number of ways to consume media and news, consumer interest in print media has started to shift, and brands that want to stay afloat might need to explore other avenues to deliver the news and secure the audience. 

Some traditional media brands are already ahead of the curve, such as BBC News which recently launched on TikTok, calling for people to discover BBC news, headlines, and popular videos. 

And now that we are at it, check out Brandwatch’s brand-new TikTok account as well!

The final word

The increase in the number of channels for entertainment in recent years has led to a surplus of options for consumers. Brands that are in the media and entertainment space need to listen to consumer needs closely in order to retain customers and attract new audiences.

Case Studies

Here are some practical examples of how companies use Brandwatch for day to day community management.

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