Why Print Media Companies Are Failing Online

Includes: GHC, GOOG, NYT
by: Ashkan Karbasfrooshan

The Web represents a bear. The bear is chasing after TV media companies and print media companies. TV and print media companies don’t really need to outrun the bear, they need to outrun one another. The problem is, I don’t see either one running very fast.

From 1994-2010, print media companies have taken a beating from their new media foes. Examples include:

  • An online magazine that publishes new content for free online (the way my old company AskMen did vs. Maxim or GQ or Esquire),
  • A classifieds site like Craigslist.org,
  • An aggregator like Newser,
  • A search engine like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), who will run ads next to the headlines and titles.

Naturally, this has made them apprehensive about the Web. But if there’s one group that is as apprehensive if not more, it’s TV media companies, who saw Napster pulverize the record labels and giving them a glimpse into the future. To their credit, the cable companies have gone on the offensive with initiatives with TV Everywhere, but over time, all that will do is accelerate the flow of audiences and ad dollars from TV to the Web.

Where the print media companies should see an opportunity is in video. Video will not replace the revenues the print companies are losing offline, but simply moving their articles online won’t either (and no app on the iPad will come close). What might give them a shot is video, lots of it, in all its formats.

The problem is even a luminary like Alan Mutter doesn’t once mention the word video in his 900-word piece on why and how newspapers are failing at boosting their digital revenues.

Trying to generate more revenues from articles is a must, but it won’t be enough.

The sooner print media companies start to wage the right battle, the sooner some will have a chance at survival.