MENA newspaper and magazine market must adapt to survive

22 March 2024 3 min. read
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With consumers increasingly getting their information from online sources and smartphone apps, newspaper and magazines are seeing their advertising revenues plumet, according to a report by Strategy& and Google.

It has long been said that the print-media entered into a worrying decline since the advent of the internet. This has most keenly been felt across the newspaper and magazine markets – as has been illustrated by a number of landmark statists in the last decade.

The circulation of newspapers and magazines in major markets such as the US, the UK, Germany and Australia has all dropped by double digits in the past decade.

MENA newspaper and magazine market must adapt to survive

The Middle East and North Africa are no exceptions to this landmark shift. As more and more people get their news and opinions from online resources, newspaper and magazine revenues are tumbling across the region.

However, new research from Strategy& and Google suggests that even including digital circulation, newspaper and magazines are seeing revenue declines that are greater than the global average. From 2022 to 2027, the firm anticipates a CAGR decline of -4%. This will see the market – which enjoyed revenues of $2 billion as recently as 2018 – hit income of just $1.2 billion in the next three years.

Interestingly, the largest decline in revenue has not come from print circulation – which is expected to fall by -5% between 2022 and 2027 – but from print advertising. Businesses clearly perceive there being less value in print advertising due to falling readership – but may be overstating that somewhat, as their decline in CAGR of -11.3% is more than double the exodus of readers.

MENA newspaper and magazine market must adapt to survive

Adapt to survive

But while this might make grim reading for market incumbents, the report also suggested that the trend opens up opportunities for new operators, and established players who can shift their focus quickly enough.

Citing a YouGov survey, the researchers noted that 45% of respondents across the MENA region indicated their willingness to pay for high-quality reporting, “particularly in such popular categories as entertainment, health, and sports”. This was highest in the UAE, where 52% said as much, compared to 40% in Saudi Arabia.

“The rapid changes in the news media industry in the MENA region have created real avenues for growth. To successfully capitalise on these opportunities, news organisations will need to digitally transform, adopt sustainable business models, and pursue operational agility, innovation, and productivity,” said Karim Sarkis, Strategy&’s leader of the media & entertainment sector in the Middle East.

In particular, Strategy&’s report suggests that digitally transforming could enable newspaper and magazine players to tap into a burgeoning space for online advertising. At present, digital advertising has pushed the wider MENA media and entertainment sector’s sponsorship income to more than $8 billion – and that could rise by 6% CAGR to more than $10 billion by 2027.

“That is an opportunity few traditional print outlets can afford to ignore anymore,” said Sarkis.