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23. November 2012 | Die deutschen Zeitungen in Zahlen und Daten

The Economic Situation of Newspapers in Germany 2012

By Anja Pasquay

Newspaper publishers have all the prerequisites for being able to emerge as winners from the process of digital change in the media sector. They are pursuing a three-pronged strategy. First of all they are continuing to develop their established business with printed products. Print continues to be a successful business area and the potentials of paper are far from being exhausted thanks to new digital technologies. Secondly, newspaper publishers are actively developing digital markets with products designed for use by readers and advertisers both on the Internet as well as on mobile phone networks. The third prong is diversification; this includes the involvement of newspaper publishers in the provision of career and supplementary training, event management, mail delivery, and business-to-business services.


Revenue from the traditional print market constitutes only one part of overall sales by newspaper publishers. Sales in this market segment stagnated in 2011. For the third year in a row newspaper sales brought in more than 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 major business and advertising downturn in the period from 2001 to 2003. The fact that this ratio has now been reversed clearly reflects the structural changes that have taken place in our sector.


Newspapers are currently reaching more readers than ever before in print, on computers, as well as on smart phones. Printed newspapers of all kinds are read by a per-publication-day average of 72.4 percent of the population above the age of fourteen (66.6 percent for daily newspapers). Nearly 40 percent of newspaper readers over the age of fourteen (27.7 million unique users) frequent websites maintained by newspaper publishers. Some 2.5 million readers visit the website of a regional newspaper at least once a week using a smart phone. And, in the case of 14-to-29-year-olds, a target group hard to reach with print publications, newspaper publishers have, since the end of 2011, managed to increase online readership by 10 percent to a current level of 62.6 percent.


Two out of three Germans over the age of 14 regularly read a printed daily newspaper. That is just under 47 million men and women. Slightly more local and regional newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by women (just under 55 percent) than by men (a little over 53 percent). More newspapers purchased at newsstands and national newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by men (26 percent and 7 percent respectively) than by women (15 percent and 5 percent respectively).



Overall sales flatlined


2011 will be remembered as a year without major highs and lows in the newspaper industry. Newspapers showed a slight decline in overall sales from advertising, supplements, and distribution, falling from the previous year's figure of 8.52 billion euros to 8.51 billion, a decrease of 0.1 percent. Out of the total sales figure, daily newspapers accounted for 8 billion euros, a decrease of 0.12 percent.


After having experienced the biggest economic downturn in postwar history in 2009, the economic situation improved significantly in 2010 and 2011. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by a price-adjusted 3 percent in 2011, after having expanded by 3.6 percent in 2010. Inflation was 2.3 percent in 2011, somewhat higher than the previous year's level (2010: 1.1 percent). The overall growth seen in the volume of business in the newspaper industry was less than GDP growth. The decline in advertising revenues (-2.2 percent) was somewhat greater than in 2010 (-1.2 percent). parallel to this there was an increase once again in distribution earnings (2011 +1.7 percent; 2010 +2.3 percent).



Trend in advertising sales


With advertising sales of 3.55 billion euros in 2011 (a decline of 2.2 percent) daily newspapers continue to be the second most important advertising medium in Germany, after television. Advertising sales by weekly and Sunday newspapers fell from 218 to 214 million euros (-1.9 percent); newspaper supplements are no longer listed separately. Total advertising sales for all newspaper categories amounted to 3.77 billion euros (-2.2 percent). The overall advertising market in Germany grew slightly. The average increase in sales for all advertising media in 2011 was 1 percent. The share the newspaper industry had in overall advertising sales was a little over 20 percent. In the year 2000 it had been 29 percent.


Regional newspapers showed total advertising sales of 2.93 billion euros for 2011. From January to December 2011 advertising volume declined by 4.2 percent. Newspapers in western Germany fared somewhat better in this regard (-4.0 percent) than their eastern German counterparts (-7.0 percent). Net advertising volume trends varied considerably in the different advertising categories. While job advertising (+14.1 percent) and car advertising (+7.8 percent) showed strong gains, real estate advertising (-11.3 percent) and business advertising (-9.1 percent) sustained substantial losses. The losses in the travel (-3.2 percent), miscellaneous (-2.3 percent), event (-3.1), and family (-2.9 percent) advertising categories were considerably smaller. The insert business declined slightly in 2011 (-1.6 percent), but showed above-average results in comparison with the other advertising categories.


From January to August 2012 the volume of paid advertisements in local and regional subscription newspapers showed a loss of 8.7 percent compared with the same period the previous year. There was a decline in job advertising, but this was offset by a gain in business advertising (local businesses, name brand manufacturers, etc.).



Average daily circulation at 22.8 million copies


Newspapers in Germany have a total circulation of more than 22.8 million sold copies per publication day (German Audit Bureau of Circulations, 3rd quarter 2012). This means there was an average decline in circulation of 821,605 copies (-3.5 percent) in comparison with the same quarter the previous year. This total circulation figure includes the sales of 227,669 e-newspaper editions of 121 different titles (+51.4 percent).


Specific overall losses amounted to -2.4 percent for local/regional newspapers, -2.6 percent for national newspapers, -7.3 percent for newspapers sold at newsstands, -4.9 percent for Sunday newspapers, and -0.9 percent for weekly newspapers.


The sold circulation of all categories of newspapers breaks down to 18.02 million copies for daily newspapers, 3.07 million copies for Sunday newspapers, and 1.75 million copies for weekly newspapers. Of the total figure for daily newspapers, 12.95 million copies are accounted for by local and regional subscription newspapers, more than 1.5 million copies by national newspapers, and just under 3.5 million copies by newspapers sold at newsstands.


Contact: pasquay@bdzv.de

Status as of: 10/2012