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Posted by: Jon Fine on May 19, 2009
I posted here on Friday about a shred of good news for newspaper companies. Consumers appear to be willing to pay for their papers—that is, the paper version of the newspaper. Or, at least, they’re doing so in numbers sufficient to make most companies’ circulation revenues increase in the first few months of ‘09.
So people are, like, ‘yay, newspapers,’ right? Not according to data just released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index--ACSI from here on down--tracks customer satisfaction across a wide range of industries and has done so since 1994. Each quarter it surveys consumers to come up with what they call a “satisfaction index” by assigning scores to key business sectors, and in many cases companies within these sectors, on a scale of 1 to 100.
The first quarter ’09 Satisfaction Index data is out and can be seen in its entirety here. How did newspapers do?
Not good. In fact, really not good. In the first quarter of '09, newspaper customers’ satisfaction rating was 63. To put this in some perspective, those surveyed expressed a greater deal of satisfaction with airlines (airlines!) which scored 64. And cell phone providers (cell phone providers?) which score a 69.
(The most-satisfactory segment, per the survey? Full-service restaurants, which notched an ACSI rating of 84. Comfort food and comfort rituals for uncomfortable times.)
That’s bad enough, but what’s worse is how badly newspapers’ ACSI score has slipped since the surveys began plumbing consumer sentiment. It’s off 12.5% since the survey's debut in 1994.
This marks the steepest “satisfaction” drop of any industry in this quarter's survey.
Anyone want to hazard a guess why newspapers' scores have dropped so far?
The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.