[Launch Event] News Sustainability Report: Key Insights Presentation

Commissioned by The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA), supported by the Google News Initiative, and prepared by Economist Impact, the ‘News Sustainability: Investing in the Future of Asia-Pacific’s Info-Ecosystem’ report has been launched last Tuesday – July 19, 2022.

Key Report Insights were presented by Policy and Insights Manager, Naka Kondo of Economist Impact. The study begins with the question ➡️

Here’s what they found out:

A disrupted news media landscape

Digitisation – and its acceleration due to the COVID-19 pandemic – has completely changed the news media landscape. The way news is researched, produced, and shared has changed entirely, as has consumer behavior.

The study looked at people aged 18-24 and noticed that that particular age group is twice as likely to access news via TikTok, social media, and news aggregators. This means that that group of people do not associate specific articles with specific media brands — they just consume them in a completely different way than news was traditionally consumed.

◾ Executives are bullish

Despite the challenges, 82% of executives in Asia Pacific agree that profitability in the news media industry is healthy and sustainable. In the responses of the “Media & Publishing” executives, they observed that 88% agree to the same statement. To continue, 83% of the news media industry executives expect health demand growth in the next year.

What’s interesting to the results of the study is that 53% recognize the organization’s current business model will not be viable within the next five years. Another 62% believes that one’s organization is under-invested in digital strategy in the last five years.

Through the pandemic, there was a recognition on both sides (executives and consumers) of the importance of quality news. People, executives, and the media industry recognize that they are not where they should be in terms of digital/technology investments and the business models they are working with. However, they are confident that they will get there.

◾ Technology is key to growth

Technology is a critical pillar of news media companies today.

Ritu Kapur | Co-Founder and Managing Director, Quint Digital Media Limited

An overarching number of executive people recognized technology as an enabler rather than a disruptor. Yes, there are some disrupting aspects of technology but the key to winning sustainability of the industry is to embrace the enabling aspects of technology.

◾ The value-payment disconnect

The study found that Asia-Pacific executives and consumers heavily rely on news and information to help them in making daily decisions — they recognize the great value quality news brings to society and economies.

However, one of the immediate challenges is that quality news is not effectively translated to the bottom lines of media companies. Subscription levels do not reflect its value.

The problem today is that ‘quality news’ is not tied to the action of payment.

Mr. Daichi Hiraguri | Director, Digital Growth Operations Center, The Asahi Shimbun

◾ Misinformation costs

Misinformation is nothing new. It has always existed in society. But the advent of social media has amplified the impact of misinformation.

Misinformation goes far beyond media. It attaches itself the fabric of society and democracy itself. I’m afraid the problem is just going to get bigger with deep fakes.

Saša Vučinić | Co-Founder and Managing Partner, North Base Media

◾ Rethinking business models

Media Experts assessed the need to think creatively about branching out to non-traditional forms of business models for media companies.

Every single player in this space must be able to work across multiple revenue lines, whether that’s subscriptions, memberships, events, consulting and understand all those.

Allan Soon | Co-founder and CEO, Splice

News media companies need to focus on monetising those eyeballs that they attract through content. Linking it to e-commerce, I think will be the key thing that is under-explored in Asia Pacific so far.

Oliver Wilkinson | Partner and Entertainment and Media Lead, PwC Singapore

Methodology of the Study

Economist Impact received 500 responses from the executive survey from the 12 Asia-Pacific countries. The survey included a minimum of 30% respondents each from Media and Publishing, Government, NGOs, and a range of other corporates. On the other hand, the consumer surveyed received 2,054 responses.

Both the executive and consumer surveys were conducted using an online methodology and took place in December 2021 and February 2022.

Watch the full Key Insights Presentation ⬇️

READ: News Sustainability Panel Discussion Transcript here