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Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?

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Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?

who owns U.S. news media outlets

Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?

It’s no secret that news media is a tough industry.

For various reasons — from tech disruption to changing media consumption habits — the U.S. has seen a net loss of 1,800 local newspapers over the past 15 years. As regional newspapers are bundled together, and venture-backed digital media brands expand their portfolios, the end result is a trend towards increased consolidation.

Today’s graphic, created by TitleMax, is a broad look at who owns U.S. news media outlets.

Escaping the News Desert

As outlets battle the duopoly of Google and Facebook for advertising revenue, the local news game has become increasingly difficult.

As a result, news deserts have been springing up all over America:

What happens when times get tough?

One option is to simply go out of business, while another traditional solution is to combine forces through consolidation. While not ideal, the latter option at least provides a potential route to revenue and cost synergies that make it easier to compete in a challenging environment.

Nation of Consolidation

Though the numbers have decreased in recent years, regional news media still reaches millions of people each day.

Below is a look at the top 20 owners of America’s newspapers:

Parent CompaniesTotal PapersExample brands
New Media Investment Group451Patriot Ledger, The Columbus Dispatch, The Providence Journal
Gannett216USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Arizona Republic
Digital First Media158Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Denver Post
Adams Publishing Group144The Charlotte Sun, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
CNHI114Niagara Gazette, The Huntsville Item, The Lebanon Reporter
Lee Enterprises100Arizona Daily Sun, St. Louis Post Dispatch
Ogden Newspapers81The Maui News, The Toledo Chronicle, Salem News
Tribune Publishing77Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun
Berkshire Hathaway Media75Buffalo News, Winston-Salem Journal, Omaha World-Herald
Shaw Media71Suburban Life Magazine, Putnam County Record
Boone Newspapers66The Austin Daily Herald, The Charlotte Gazette
Hearst Corp.66San Francisco Chronicle, Seattlepi.com, Houston Chronicle
Paxton Media Group58Daily Corinthian, Connersville News-Examiner
Landmark Media Enterprises55Citrus County Chronicle, The News-Enterprise
Community Media Group51Lafayette Leader, The Wellsboro Gazette
AIM Media50Odessa American, El Nuevo Heraldo
McClatchy49Idaho Statesman, Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee
Advance Publications46The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, The Oregonian, NJ.com
Rust Communications44Cherokee Chronicle Times, Southeast Missourian
News Media Corp.43Cheyenne Minuteman, Brookings Register, Newport News Times

Source

Turnover in this segment of the market has been brisk. In fact, more than half of existing newspapers have changed ownership in the past 15 years, some multiple times. For example, the LA Times is now in the hands of its third owner since 2000, after being purchased by billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong.

The industry may be facing another dramatic drop off in ownership diversity as the two largest players, New Media Investment Group and Gannett, are on the path to merging. If shareholders give the thumbs-up during the vote this November, Gannett will have amassed the largest online audience of any American news provider.

The Flying Vs: Vox and Vice

It isn’t just regional papers being swept up in the latest round of mergers and acquisitions — new media is getting into the mix as well.

Vox Media recently inked a deal to acquire New York Media, the firm behind New York Magazine, Vulture, and The Cut.

I think you’re going to see that trend [of consolidation] across the industry. I just hope it’s done for the right reasons. You see too many of these things done for financial engineering.

– Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media

Meanwhile, Vice recently acquired Refinery29 for $400 million, giving it access to a new audience skewed towards millennial women. This match-up seems awkward on the surface, but it allows advertisers to reach a broader cross-section of people within each ad ecosystem.

Both companies announced layoffs in the past year, and this restructuring may help both companies win as they consolidate resources.

The Bottom Line

While news media isn’t quite as consolidated as the broader media ecosystem, it’s certainly trending in that direction. Thousands of American communities that had local newspapers in 2004 now have no news coverage at all, while remaining papers are increasingly becoming units within an umbrella company, with no direct stake in community reporting.

That said, until the issue of monetization is definitively sorted out, consolidation may be the only way to keep the presses from stopping.


About the Graphic

This list of top 100 news sites was compiled using the following criteria:

– The top “digital-native” news outlets by monthly unique visitors (Pew Research and ComScore, excluding sports)
– The top newspapers by average Sunday circulation (Pew Research and Alliance for Audited Media)
– Alexa’s top sites under the category of news (U.S. only, excluding user-generated)

Note: The graphic has been updated to reflect changes in ownership for Refinery29, Gizmodo, and Jezebel.

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How COVID-19 Has Impacted Media Consumption, by Generation

This visualization explores how each generation’s media consumption is changing amid the frenzy of pandemic-induced quarantines.

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Media Consumption in the Age of COVID-19

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc across the globe, people’s time that would have otherwise been spent perusing malls or going to live events, is now being spent on the sofa.

During this period of pandemic-induced social isolation, it’s no surprise that people are consuming vast amounts of media. Today’s graphics use data from a Global Web Index report to explore how people have increased their media consumption as a result of the outbreak, and how it differs across each generation.

More Time to Kill

Global Web Index found that over 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK say they consume more content since the outbreak, with broadcast TV and online videos (YouTube, TikTok) being the primary mediums across all generations and genders.

Unsurprisingly, 68% of consumers are seeking out pandemic updates online over any other activity. Gen Zers however, have other plans, as they are the only generation more likely to be listening to music than searching for news.

internet activities

Overall, younger generations are more likely to entertain themselves by playing games on their mobile or computer. Millennials also stand out as the foodie generation, as they are the most likely to be searching for cooking recipes or reading up on healthy eating.

Leaning on a Pillar of Trust

Across the board, consumers view the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most trusted source of information for any COVID-19 related updates.

This isn’t true everywhere on a regional basis, however. For example, while U.S. consumers trust WHO the most, UK consumers view their government as their most trusted news source overall.

media consumption trust

Trust in information shared on social media is higher than word of mouth from friends and family, and even foreign government websites. That said, it is lower than information shared on the radio or news websites.

The Need for Pandemic Positivity

While staying abreast of pandemic updates is important, ultimately, a positive mindset and the ability to switch off will help people cope better day-to-day.

Therefore, it seems reasonable that people are more inclined to invest in new subscription services since they have been in isolation, with almost one-third of Gen Zers considering purchasing Netflix, followed by Disney+.

media consumption subscription

Understandably, people are becoming increasingly worried about how much time they are dedicating to their screens. However, research suggests that screen time itself is no cause for concern. Rather, it’s the content we choose to consume that could have a significant impact our psychological well-being.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the TV shows and movies that are increasing in popularity on Netflix are about pandemics—which could signify the need for people to fictionalize the chaos we find ourselves in.

Regardless of what type of content we are consuming, the fact is that every generation is relying on their devices during this pandemic to inform and distract more than ever before, creating a huge opportunity for media companies to engage a captive audience.

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The Most Loved Brands, by Generation

Can a brand transcend time and be all things to all people? This graphic seeks to find out by visualizing the most loved brands by generation.

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The Most Beloved Brands, by Generation

When it comes to buying into brands, consumers are spoiled for choice.

The vast amount of options available makes it increasingly difficult for brands to build meaningful emotional connections with them—but for the brands that do, the payoff can be huge.

Today’s graphic pulls data from MBLM’s 2020 Brand Intimacy Report and visualizes the top 10 brands that different generations connect with the most.

Can Emotion Be Measured?

Brands that tap into consumers’ emotions can establish higher levels of trust. This in turn creates a culture of loyalty that could ensure a unique standing in the market and long-term growth.

In fact, intimate brands that have a strong emotional bond with their consumers tend to outperform top companies listed on the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 in both revenue and profit. To measure how brands emotionally connect with consumers, MBLM looked at four key factors:

  • Users: The existing relationship between a brand and a consumer
  • Emotional Connection: The degree of positive feelings the user has for a brand, and the extent to which their personal values align with the brand’s values
  • Archetype: The six markers that are present among intimate brands, which include fulfillment, identity, enhancement, ritual, nostalgia, and indulgence
  • Stage: The degree of intensity in the relationship across three phases: sharing, bonding, and fusing
  • Intimacy Score: Based on these four components, a score is assigned, ranging from 0-100

The total score also reveals which brands rank the highest across different age groups. While there are some commonalities across each generation, can brands be all things to all people?

The Chosen One

There are very few brands that have the luxury of retaining loyal customers from different age brackets. Amazon, however, manages to transcend age. The retail giant appears in the top five for Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers—with the latter awarding the brand their #1 spot.

Every generation named “enhancement” as Amazon’s defining trait, meaning their lives have improved as a result of the relationship. The “ritual” trait also scored high, with users claiming the brand has become ingrained into their daily behavior.

Ranked: Top Brands by Generation

Gen Z and Millennials (18-34)

Sony-owned PlayStation holds the title for the most intimate brand among Millennials, climbing up from the 8th spot in 2019. Impressively, more than 50% of Millennials have an emotional connection to the brand, with men having a particularly strong affinity for it.

Having recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, the gaming brand’s success has been fueled by the increasing popularity of multiplayer and professional gaming, as well as new product innovation—with five of the ten best selling consoles owned by PlayStation.

RankBrandScoreIndustry   
#1PlayStation78.3Media and Entertainment
#2Amazon76.6Retail
#3Target68.7Retail
#4Disney67.8Media and Entertainment
#5Ford67.4Automotive
#6Jeep66.8Automotive
#7Apple65.9Technology
#8YouTube63.0Media and Entertainment
#9Xbox59.8Media and Entertainment
#10Nintendo56.8Media and Entertainment

Interestingly, when Gen Z (18-24) are singled out, Microsoft-owned Xbox ranks as #1, increasing its score to 73.5 in 2020 from 49.7 in 2018.

Gen X (35-54)

As the generational middle child, Gen X did not grow up with the same access to technology. However, their tech adoption is almost on par with Millennials, with similar adoption rates across tablet and smartphone ownership.

It is no surprise therefore, that Apple has captured the hearts of this generation, sitting proudly in first place. When the iPhone launched in 2007, this group was between 22-41 years old, so they have likely been loyal followers of the tech brand since its earlier days.

RankBrandScoreIndustry   
#1Apple72.1Technology
#2Amazon66.8Retail
#3Netlix66.1Media and Entertainment
#4Jeep65.1Automotive
#5Disney65.0Media and Entertainment
#6Ford63.6Automotive
#7Samsung58.5Technology
#8Xbox57.0Media and Entertainment
#9Walmart55.2Retail
#10Nike54.6Apparel

While this generation has no qualms about shopping online, 72% of them shop in brick and mortar stores and are satisfied with doing so—which may be part of the reason why retail giant Walmart joins Amazon in the top 10.

Baby Boomers (55-64)

Controlling almost 70% of disposable income in the U.S., Baby Boomers are arguably the most influential of all consumer groups.

While they feel the most emotionally connected to Amazon, it’s also true that Apple was another tech brand to win the affection of this age group.

RankBrandScoreIndustry   
#1Amazon70.0Retail
#2Toyota63.6Automotive
#3Apple61.4Technology
#4Costco61.2Retail
#5Macy’s55.2Retail
#6Hershey’s54.8Consumer Packaged Goods
#7Hewlett-Packard54.4Technology
#8Pillsbury51.8Consumer Packaged Goods
#9Kellogg’s50.0Consumer Packaged Goods
#10Pepsi50.0Consumer Packaged Goods

This generation dominates almost 50% of consumer packaged goods (CPG) sales in the U.S.—which likely explains why the rest of their top brands are more traditional household names, such as Macy’s, Hershey’s, and Kellogg’s.

It is also clear from the ranking that this group values brands with nostalgic qualities, as well as the ability to provide them with moments of indulgence.

The Changing Brand Landscape

The brand and consumer relationship has shifted with the ages, but each generation’s unique value system has remained the most important piece of the puzzle.

It is worth noting that none of the Baby Boomer’s favorite brands appear in the ranking for those aged 18-24 (Gen Z). Are the preferences of younger generations signalling a cultural shift, in which we place more value on distraction rather than satisfaction?

Note: The 2020 Brand Intimacy Report covers an age range of 18-64. The way that the ranking is structured makes it difficult to reflect conventional demographic groups (e.g. Gen Z, the Silent Generation etc.)

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