German newspaper sales stabilise as readers pay online

  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 15 Jul 2015

BETTER THAN EXPECTED: Circulation of so-called e-papers rose 30% to 733,000 in the first quarter of 2015, accounting for more than 10% of all circulation at national newspapers in Germany.

FRANKFURT/BERLIN: German newspaper revenues stabilised in 2014 after years of decline as publishers compensated for falling advertising sales by persuading more readers to pay for news online. 

Total revenues fell 0.6% to €7.76bil (RM32.52bil) in Europe's biggest newspaper market, the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) said, compared with a 4.4% decline in 2013. 

The BDZV said it expected stable revenues again this year. 

The industry in North America and Europe is beginning to recover from a crisis that began with the rise of the consumer Internet in the late 1990s, which made free online news widely available and encouraged many readers to stop buying newspapers. 

After a painful consolidation that saw titles from the Rocky Mountain News to the Financial Times Deutschland go out of business, newspapers such as the New York Times or Bild have managed to build up a paying audience online. 

Advertising, which generated up to 80% of newspapers' revenues last century, now generates less than half the global industry's US$179bil (RM681.14bil) in sales, according to the World Association of Newspaper and News Publishers.

GREEN LIT: German media giant Axel Springer and the television group ProSiebenSAT1 are in talks to merge, a decade after an earlier tie-up was turned down by German competition authorities, Bloomberg News reported on July 7, 2015. – AFP

The BDZV said about a third of Germany's over 300 daily titles were now attracting paying readers of online news, helped by the growing popularity of smartphone and tablet apps that present news in an attractive way to consumers on the go. 

"People understand that good journalism has a price also on the Internet," said BDVZ board member Hans-Joachim Fuhrmann. 

Circulation of so-called e-papers rose 30% to 733,000 in the first quarter of 2015, accounting for more than 10% of all circulation at national newspapers. 

Axel Springer, publisher of best-selling European tabloid Bild, is now in preliminary talks to be acquired by broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 as the two old-media firms may seek to combine their burgeoning digital expertise. 

Bild had 258,000 paying online subscribers at the end of the first quarter, compared with 2.22 million copies sold of its print edition, and Springer is compensating for the decline in print classified ads by buying a stable of classified websites. 

Overall, German newspapers' advertising revenue fell 3.5% to €2.99bil (RM12.52bil) in 2014 but combined circulation revenues from print and online rose 1.3% to €4.76bil (RM19.95bil). – Reuters

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