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Service Annual Survey Shows Continuing Decline in Print Publishing Revenue

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Many Americans may not remember the last time they stopped by a newsstand to pick up a magazine or newspaper. Or the last time they passed by – let alone walked into – a video store.

The rise of digital media and technology has transformed the way we access our news and entertainment.

It’s also had a devastating impact on print publishing industries.

The rise of digital media and technology has transformed the way we access our news and entertainment.

The U.S. Census Bureau's Service Annual Survey (SAS) provides a unique look at the financial hit these industries took between 2002 and 2020:

  • Estimated Newspaper Publishers revenue dropped by 52.0%.
  • Estimated revenue for Periodical Publishing, which includes magazines, fell by 40.5%.
  • Estimated Video Tape and Disc Rental revenue decreased by 88.5%.

From Print to Digital

There was a pronounced shift from print to digital media in the first two decades of this century.

Total estimated weekday circulation of U.S. daily newspapers was 55.8 million in 2000 and dropped to 24.2 million by 2020, according to Editor & Publisher and the Pew Research Center.

As circulation slid so did revenue: Newspaper Publishers revenue in 2020 was less than half what it was in 2002, dropping from $46.2 billion to $22.1 billion, according to the SAS. There was a 27.8% decrease in revenue from 2002 to 2010, and a 33.6% decrease from 2010 to 2020.

Periodical Publishing, which includes medical and scientific journals, religious and scholastic magazines, and other specialty publications, took a similar hit.

Estimated revenue from Periodical Publishing dropped from $40.2 billion in 2002 to $23.9 billion in 2020. There was a 20.7% revenue decline from 2002 to 2010, and a 25.0% decrease from 2010 to 2020.

In 2020, Video Tape and Disc Rental revenue was $1.1 billion, about one-ninth of what it was in 2002 ($9.4 billion). There was a 35.3% revenue drop from 2002 to 2010 and an 82.2% decrease from 2010 to 2020.

Video/Disc Rental stores began to close in waves. For example, in 2021 one of the major brick and mortar video rental companies only had one remaining store left in Bend, Oregon.

Adam Grundy is a supervisory statistician in the Census Bureau’s Economic Management Division. 


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Page Last Revised - May 22, 2024
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