The current state of newspaper syndication

Rob Tornoe, writing for Editor & Publisher, has an interesting read about the current state of newspaper syndication. He confirms what most of us have observed in the last few years – new comic launches are few and far between. It’s a good read with a lot of information on the syndicates’ offerings both in papers and digital products. I highly suggest you take a few minute to read it.

24 thoughts on “The current state of newspaper syndication

  1. Thanks for linking this. Doesn’t sound like too much has changed since I attempted to get syndicated in the 80s, other than your chances are even less. And still no one knows which strip/feature will be a success, and never will.

  2. If you go to the linked story, make sure to read David A’s comment. (It’s the first one.) It adds perspective.

  3. I gave up on trying to get my work syndicated years ago. While I don’t make any money off of it, hopefully SOMEONE reads Fluffy and Mervin on the web or through my Android App.

  4. If the best digital strategy the syndicates have been able to come up with is, which gets less daily traffic in all its entirety than xkcd, a single webcomic, then they’re totally hosed.

  5. The article states GoComics has “70 million page views per month and more than 1.8 million monthly unique visitors.” Quantcast puts at 1.7 million global uniques/month so that sounds about right.

    No quantcast data on xkcd but we can go to Alexa which has ranked at 2780 globally and 1023 in the US, compared to which is 3573 and 798 respectively.

  6. Fascinating that you can see all that info. Why cannot you see xkcd’s info on quantcast?

  7. 4868 and 1513 are the US ranks by Quantcast’s analytics. Also it seems the vast majority of GoComics’ audience is from the United States so it makes sense that the US traffic ranking is relatively higher than their global rank. Quantcast doesn’t seem to have any data on xkcd though so maybe a better comparison would be to another big webcomic like Penny Arcade.

    The point of my comments was not to overanalyze exact traffic metrics but to illustrate how underwhelming the syndicates’ digital “success” is, despite the article full of corporate doublespeak. None of the syndicates have a viable digital strategy.

  8. I love Penny Arcade.

    No argument from me otherwise, your initial numbers seem to be off though. And Xkcd according to alexa has dropped quite significantly over the last two years.

    Is that all the syndicates do? One comic site?

  9. Marie- Just curious, at 70 million page views and 1.8 million monthly visitors, can you estimate what you think GoComics make in advertising on an annual basis?

  10. GoComics does about 18% of HuffPost’s traffic. Could you extrapolate to 18% of the revenue? $5+ million annually?

    Next question: how much are those page views worth? The Huffington Post had revenues of about $30 million last year, they?ve reported, almost all of which was from display advertising. This revenue was generated on roughly 4.8 billion page views over the course of 2010, according to Quantcast data. That means the average page view was worth a little more than six-tenths of a cent, or that 1,000 page views were worth about $6.25.

  11. This leads me to believe cartoonists are best suited to marketing their own work (whatever that may be….strips or panels etc.) and self-syndicate your creations. I have editors considering my work at several newspapers right now and have a few more running them. I’m not even pushing what I offer to the newspaper business. I often wonder what a cartoonist can do if you package your work and submit it the right way? Tundra has set a good example for this I believe. Don’t lose hope. If you think you have something for newspapers, jump in your car and hit the road.

  12. Dennis, my numbers weren’t off so much as web traffic rankings are dynamic. A website that’s at position 3489 today can be 2798 tomorrow because an image there goes viral, a new update drives traffic, more people are online at that time of day or week, etc. etc. The numbers I posted were what Alexa showed at the time. I don’t know how often Alexa updates its rankings but they are different now.

    Brian, advertising CPM rates differ depending on what ad network you belong to or if you sell your own adspace directly, what percentage of your traffic comes from mobile vs. web, and what types of ads you run. Prorating based on HuffPo’s numbers is as good a guess as any.

  13. OK, thank you Marie. Those sites have a lot of great info I appreciate you telling me about them.

  14. My strip got it’s first rejection a few weeks ago. I am just waiting for the other syndicates to send my the other rejections. I was really feeling down about it until reading this article. It really is tough out there.

    I am just thankful for places like Comic Sherpa where I can have an outlet and at least “think” I am getting my strip out to the masses… By “masses”, I mean “all 7 of my readers”…. lol.

    The comparison to “hitting the lottery” is pretty accurate when it comes to anyone’s chances of getting syndicated. But you have to remember, you will never win if you never play!!! I think I’ll be playing a long time… and if I never win, at least I will have had fun playing.

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