The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated a newspaper industry already reeling from years of closures and layoffs, but not all sectors of the news media have been affected by the coronavirus downturn equally, according to Pew Research Center analysis.

Pew’s report, which analyzed the performance of U.S. newspapers as well as cable and broadcast media outlets, found that median ad revenues fell 42 percent among the nation’s six largest newspaper chains—who own more than 300 daily papers—between 2019’s second quarter and Q2 2020.

Year-over-year change in revenue between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020.
Year-over-year change in revenue between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020.

By contrast, ad revenues across the three major cable news networks (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) held steady overall. And ad revenue across the five major local TV news companies analyzed (which comprises more than 600 news stations) was down during 2020’s second quarter though retransmission fees during this period more than made up for those losses, according to the report. Meanwhile, ad revenue across the three major broadcast TV news networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) increased year-over-year.

The report also discovered that newspaper companies’ revenues took a worse hit financially during 2020’s second quarter than they did during the Great Recession a decade ago. Moreover, newspaper circulation revenue also dipped during 2020’s second quarter by a median of eight percent. According to the report, three of the six newspaper companies studied now derive more revenue from circulation than from ads.

Finally, the report found that digital ads, often seen as the newspaper industry’s last financial hope, has offered little relief throughout the pandemic, falling by a median of 32 percent between 2019’s second quarters and Q2 2020.

Data from Pew’s report comes from Securities and Exchange Commission filings of publicly traded media companies as well as data obtained from market research outfit Kantar.