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29. November 2017 | Die deutschen Zeitungen in Zahlen und Daten

The Economic Situation of Newspapers in Germany 2017

By Anja Pasquay


The newspaper is the universal communication platform, and plays a vitally important role in the German media system. No other medium can portray the world so professionally in its universality. Right down to the local and hyperlocal area, the newspaper accompanies people and at the same time provides the “big picture” in politics, business, culture and sport. With this wealth of information and education, newspapers regularly reach a good 60 million citizens or three-quarters of the German-speaking population. This is increasingly happening on digital playback channels from PCs to tablets and smartphones.

Newspaper publishers are responding to the far-reaching and ongoing transformation processes as a result of digitization with different strategies: On the one hand, business with printed products is being further developed; print remains an important part of corporate success. In addition, publishers are proactively tapping into the digital markets and developing additional online and mobile services for readers, users and advertising customers. In addition, there are diversification models, such as commitments in training and further education, event management, mail delivery or the B-2-B service for companies and organizations, but also in markets that have nothing at all to do with journalistic content and its dissemination.

The economic data from the traditional print market thus only reflect part of the publishing house's revenues. Here, sales declined slightly in 2016. For the eighth consecutive year, income from newspaper sales in Germany was higher than advertising revenues. The old rule of thumb, according to which two-thirds of sales come from advertising and one-third from the sale of the daily press, has not been valid since the first major economic and advertising crisis of the decade (2001 to 2003), but the reversal in the relations clearly signals the structural changes within the industry.  

High overall penetration

Printed newspapers are read by 62.6 percent of citizens over the age of 14 per publication day (daily papers: 57.9 percent) A good 55 percent of the over 14 year-olds (38.7 million unique users) use publishers' websites at least once a month; 11.5 million users access a newspaper's website at least once a day via mobile phone. What's more, the penetration rate of publishers on the Internet for the 14 to 29-year-old target group, which is difficult to reach with printed publications, has risen by 22 percentage points to 74.7 percent since the end of 2011.

Two out of every three Germans over the age of 14 regularly read a printed daily paper, this amounts to just under 41 million men and women. At 47.8 percent, female readers of local and regional subscription newspapers are even slightly ahead of male readers (46.0 percent). On the other hand, men are more likely to purchase newsstand papers and national subscription newspapers (20.6 percent and 6.0 percent respectively) than women (10.9 percent and 3.2 percent respectively).

Total sales revenue is declining   

For newspapers, 2016 will be remembered as a rather difficult year in economic terms, despite the continued good consumer climate in Germany. Total revenues from advertisements, supplements and sales were slightly lower than in the previous year, falling from EUR 7.64 billion to EUR 7.56 billion (-1.1 percent). Daily newspapers accounted for EUR 7.22 billion of this, which represents a loss of 0.8 percent.  

Following the biggest economic downturn in Germany’s post-war history in 2009, the economic environment was much more favorable in the subsequent years; gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.9 percent in real terms in 2016, after an increase of 1.7 percent in 2015 and 1.6 percent in 2014. In contrast, the inflation rate of 0.5 percent in 2016 was slightly higher than the previous year (2015: 0.3 percent). The newspaper business thus dropped below GDP. The decline in advertising revenues (-4.7 percent) was slightly lower in 2016 than in 2015 (-6.3 percent), whereas circulation revenues continued to show a slight increase (+1.0 percent; 2015 +1.6 percent).

Development of the advertising business

With advertising revenues of EUR 2.53 billion in 2016 (-4.6 percent), daily newspapers in Germany are the second largest advertising medium after television. Advertising revenues of weekly and Sunday newspapers fell from EUR 155 million to EUR 144 million (-6.8 percent); newspaper supplements are not reported separately. Total advertising revenues for all types of newspapers amounted to EUR 2.67 billion (-4.7 percent).

The net sales development of advertising media in Germany stagnated in 2016 at EUR 15.36 billion (+1.0 percent). The newspaper industry's share of total advertising revenues (excluding, however, the revenues from online advertising markets) is 17 percent; in 2000, it had risen as high as 29 percent.

The advertising revenues of the regional newspapers totaled EUR 2.14 billion in 2016. From January to December 2016, advertising volumes fell by 4.7 percent, with newspapers in the West (-4.5 percent) clearly outperforming those in the East (-11.0 percent). The development of the net advertising volumes differed in the individual advertising categories: job advertisements (-0.9 percent), vehicle market advertisements (-8.7), real estate advertisements (-14.4), business advertisements (-4.7), travel advertisements (+9.6), miscellaneous advertisements (-6.0), event advertisements (-3.8) personal announcements (-4.4). The development of the business of brochure supplements (-2.3) also declined in 2016, but was above average compared with the remainder of the advertising business.

From January to August 2017, the total volume of paid ads in local and regional subscription newspapers again contracted slightly (-1.7 percent) compared to the same period of the previous year, whereby this time the East German market grew by 4.3 percent (West: -1.9 percent).

Sold circulation of 18.3 million copies

Newspapers in Germany have a total circulation of over 18.3 million copies sold per publication day (IVW: Q2 2017). The German newspaper market is thus the largest in Europe and the fifth-largest in the world.
The total circulation includes a good 1.2 million e-paper editions of 199 different titles sold (+37.1 percent).

On balance, losses totaled -3.2 per cent for local/regional newspapers, -4.1 per cent for national titles, -11.5 per cent for newsstand newspapers and -25.1 per cent for Sunday newspapers. In contrast, weekly newspapers remained at the same level as the previous year (+0.4 percent).

The paid circulation of all newspaper categories is made up of 15.3 million daily newspapers, 2.0 million Sunday newspapers and 1.7 million weekly newspapers. Local and regional subscription newspapers account for 11.8 million copies of daily papers, a good one million of national newspapers and 2.5 million of newsstand papers.


Status: 11/2017

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