Demand for coronavirus news reverses decline in print sales at News Corp

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 25 March 2020
Mark Reinke

Demand for news amid the coronavirus pandemic has reversed years of declining print sales at News Corp Australia.

Mark Reinke, managing director for consumer, says more are turning to News Corp’s publications as communities experience this “once in a lifetime challenge”.

Brands such as The Australian and metro title The Daily Telegraph have seen an audience lift across print and digital.

“We're seeing audiences spike considerably,” Reinke told AdNews.

“Across most of our brands, the average is up at least 50%, but in some cases much higher.

“We’re then seeing digital subscriptions, people that want to pay for news and get it in the palm of their hands, also lifting appreciably, and over the last couple of weeks, we've seen that lift by at least 25%.”

The spike in print sales for major titles at supermarkets has reversed the publisher’s declining newspaper sales, from 5% to 6% annualised decline to low single digit growth.

As the virus continues to spread and creates a climate of uncertainty across Australian communities, it’s taken over news cycles, with at least 50% and sometimes more of News Corp’s coverage focusing on the pandemic.

Reinke doesn’t see the demand for coronavirus-related news slowing in the near future, as it touches all areas of people’s lives, including how to educate kids at home and support with finance.

News Corp will seek to retain new readers by continuing to adapt their stories.

“It's still early, but I think the attention will turn to how to live, not just how to be updated,” Reinke says.

“We will see much more focus on how to stay healthy. How to live with my family almost 24/7 under one roof - I think will become a big, big focus.

“So there will be fatigue almost certainly on simply the numbers, but there is a significant thirst for information on things that none of us as consumers or as community members have had to deal with before.

“We just haven't had to be confined in our homes. I think mental health will be a big focus as it emerges over the next couple of months and we’re really focusing on that. It will be physical health first, but mental health so that the sheer volume of coronavirus information doesn’t have a negative health impact on people's mental health.

“We've got to find a way to really give people information and tools that keep them mentally positive.”



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