The press industry lost £1 billion off the topline from the calamitous decline in print revenues due to pandemic-related mobility restrictions, partly offset by gains on digital subscriptions, much harder to precisely size in revenue terms.
Trapped at home for the most part, online traffic to BBC News and news publisher services boomed. Popular news sites marginally grew digital advertising while the quality nationals attracted 800,000 new paying subscribers to reach nearly three million in 2020.
The outlook for 2021, in the transition to the ‘new normal’, is mixed. Consumer work patterns and news, information and entertainment habits are unlikely to ‘bounce back’ to pre-pandemic levels, placing free commuter titles at particular risk. Signs of confidence through online innovation are welcome.