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The Lifespan of NME: Terminating Print Publications After 66 Years

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Established in 1952, NME is the longest standing music publication in the world. However, in March 2018, the company announced they were terminating the magazine to focus solely on the website. The print industry has experienced a rapid decline with the rise of digital, and the company is adapting to the changing market. The enormous growth of the internet and mobile has influenced the demise of many newspaper and magazine publications, with NME the most recent casualty. Business Rescue Expert, a leading insolvency practitioner firm in the UK, is analysing what NME ceasing print publications means for the future of the brand, and the market.

NME is the world’s most popular and established music magazine. The brand changed the face of the industry, with music royalty gracing the covers and the pages in the publication. The magazine launched with the sole intention of appealing to men, aged between their late teens and twenties. However, as they grew in popularity, so did their readership. Today, their readers are 63% male and 37% female.

NME rode the boom in the print industry, generating more than £1 million a week in revenue at the height of their popularity. Coupled with 400,000 subscribers, the brand had a solid customer base to launch their website in 1996, covering more topical areas. As accessing news through the internet became popular, NME recorded a dip in profits. In 2008, the bold headline was ‘mobile to overtake fixed internet access in 2014’, and the reports proved it to be true. More than 69% of consumers spend their media time on their smartphone, leading to a sharp decline in those reading NME. In 2015, the company announced they only had 15,000 subscribers.

Measures were put in place to save the publication, including making the magazine free for all readers in September 2015. Thus, NME relied on advertising revenue, rather than sales revenue. This temporary relief boosted subscribers up to 300,000. Soon after, NME was acquired by a private equity firm, who have concluded that keeping the brand in its current form is no longer financially viable. NME will now only be available online.

The print industry changes

As more readers use their smartphones for news, the print industry experiences more losses. Rather than going to the shop for breaking news, mobile phone users can see the stories unfold in real time. Similarly, news apps offer the option of notifications, meaning you are alerted to any news occurring around the world. Today, younger readers are also said to have less disposable income and can access websites sharing similar stories to those of print publications free, and whenever they want.

However, not all print publications are terminating, and some news outlets are adapting to the changes in the market. Those reactions to these attitudes include:

  • Magazines/newspapers adding QR codes to print, taking the reader to a webpage or app
  • Offering exclusive discounts that can only be found in the print edition
  • Producing highly valuable and in-depth content not available online

How do online publications obtain funding

Funding for online publications can take a variety of formats. Primarily, most websites gain funding through advertising. For example, if you have ever been skimming an article and an advert has popped up. Paywalls are also another method, asking consumers to pay a small amount to access their content. Typically, this is a one-off payment over a certain amount of time.

Online articles often include surveys you must answer before accessing the story, with the condition that the data is sold to another party. This is a form of funding for the site, as are competitions. If a company offers the chance to win £20,000, they could ask you to text into a premium rate line. If enough people do so, the business will make their money back along with additional profits.

The continuing development of websites and digital applications mean you can no longer run a print publication as you did 20 years ago. Times are changing, and magazines are suffering. Those who adapt to the changes will be the companies that survive.

Elliot Preece
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