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10. Oktober 2010 | Die deutschen Zeitungen in Zahlen und Daten

The economic situation of newspapers in Germany 2010

By Anja Pasquay

Last year (2009) revenues from newspaper sales in Germany were, for the first time, greater than revenues from classified ads and other forms of advertising. The old rule of thumb that two thirds of sales in the newspaper business stem from advertising and one third from distribution lost its validity at the time of the first business and advertising downturn in the current decade (from 2001 to 2003). The fact that this relationship is now being reversed is a clear reflection of the structural changes taking place in our industry. Like all other traditional media, newspapers are feeling the effects of the global and national economic situation which has had repercussions in the newspaper advertising market as well as with regard to the amount of money average households are able to spend on media products.

Nonetheless, the audience penetration levels recorded for German printed newspapers have continued to be quite high. The overall audience penetration level for 2010 was 69.6 percent. This means that more than 49 million Germans over the age of 14 pick up a newspaper every day. Daily newspapers traditionally have their highest levels of audience penetration among persons in the 40-69 age range, i.e. between well above 71 and just under 82 percent. Similarly, more than 82 percent of persons over the age of 70 regularly read a daily newspaper and over 63 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 39. But younger age groups are also newspaper readers; more than 42 percent of the 14-to-19-year-olds and well above 53 percent of the 20-to-29-year olds show an interest in reading printed daily newspapers.

All in all seven out of ten Germans over the age of 14 regularly read a daily newspaper. Slightly more local and regional newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by women (58 percent) than by men (55.8 percent). More newspapers purchased at newsstands and national newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by men (26.5 percent and 6.8 percent respectively) than by women (15.8 percent and 4.3 percent respectively).


Renewed decline in overall sales

2009 will be remembered as one of the most difficult years on record for the newspaper industry. Newspapers showed a significant decline in overall sales from advertising, supplements, and distribution, falling from the previous year's figure of 9.09 billion euros to 8.46 billion, a decrease of 7.04 percent. Out of the total sales figure, daily newspapers accounted for 7.96 billion euros, a decrease of 6.84 percent.

The economic situation in 2009 was extremely unfavorable; gross domestic product (GDP) fell by price-adjusted 4.9 percent, in stark contrast to the increase of 1.3 percent seen in 2008. The inflation rate, on the other hand, was extraordinarily low at 0.4 percent (compared to 2.6 percent in 2008). The percentage decline in business for the newspaper industry exceeded the percentage decline in GDP. Advertising revenues showed a loss of 15.9 percent, considerably greater than the loss seen in 2008 (4.1 percent); distribution sales, on the other hand, showed a gain of 2.3 percent.


Trend in advertising sales

With advertising sales of 3.69 billion euros in 2009 (despite the fact that this constitutes a decline of 15.5 percent) daily newspapers continue to be the most important advertising medium in Germany. Advertising sales by weekly and Sunday newspapers fell from 266 to 208 million euros (-21.6 percent). Newspaper supplements are no longer listed separately. Total advertising sales for all newspaper categories amounted to 3.9 billion euros (-15.9 percent). Advertising sector losses for Germany as a whole were considerable. The average decline in sales for all advertising media in 2009 was 9.8 percent. The share the newspaper industry had in overall advertising sales declined slightly to just under 22 percent. In the year 2000 it had been 29 percent.

Regional newspapers in western and eastern Germany showed total advertising sales of 3.04 billion euros for 2009. From January to December 2009 advertising volume declined by 12.1 percent: Newspapers in western Germany showed a loss of 11.9 percent in advertising volume, while their eastern German counterparts fared even worse with a decline of 14.3 percent. Net advertising volume trends varied considerably in the different advertising categories. While job advertisements showed extreme losses (39.3 percent), the losses for real estate advertisements (18.2 percent), car advertisements (15 percent), and other advertisements (18.4 percent) were somewhat below average. The losses suffered in business advertisements (5 percent), event advertisements (4.7 percent), and family advertisements (0.9 percent) were much smaller. The only gain registered was in travel advertisements (0.4 percent).

In the first half of 2010 the volume of paid advertisements in local and regional subscription newspapers showed a renewed loss of 7.3 percent compared with the same period the previous year. The only gain seen was in job advertisements (1.8 percent). A negative trend was shown between January and June 2010 in business advertisements (-6.9 percent), real estate advertisements (-18.9 percent), car advertisements (-11 percent), travel advertisements (-12.9 percent), event advertisements (-2.8 percent), family advertisements (-3 percent), and other advertisement categories (-10.1 percent).

The insert business in 2009 was disappointing, showing a loss of 3.6 percent; the downward trend in this market segment continued in the first half of 2010, showing a further decline of 3.9 percent. This was primarily a result of losses in western Germany. In the eastern parts of the country, by contrast, the insert business prospered, showing gains of 2.6 percent in 2009.


Average daily circulation at 24.8 million copies

Newspapers in Germany have a total circulation of 24.8 million sold copies per publication day (German Audit Bureau of Circulations, 2nd quarter 2010). This means there was an average decline in circulation of 527,661 copies (-2.1 percent) compared to the same quarter the previous year. This total circulation figure does not take into account the sales of 95,263 e-newspaper editions (+20.7 percent).

Specific losses amounted to -2.2 percent for local/regional newspapers (western Germany -1.9 percent / eastern Germany -3.3 percent), -2.8 percent for national newspapers, -3.6 percent for newspapers sold at newsstands, and -1.4 percent for Sunday newspapers. Only the weekly newspapers registered a gain (1.7 percent).

The sold circulation of all categories of newspapers breaks down to 19.43 million copies for daily newspapers, 3.38 million copies for Sunday newspapers, and 1.94 million copies for weekly newspapers. Of the total figure for daily newspapers, 13.74 million copies are accounted for by local and regional subscription newspapers, just under 1.6 million copies by national newspapers, and over 1.4 million copies by newspapers sold at newsstands.

Contact: pasquay(at)bdzv.de

Status as of: 8/2010