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11. September 2008 | Die deutschen Zeitungen in Zahlen und Daten

The situation of newspapers in Germany 2008

Almost across the board daily newspapers in Germany are showing (slight) declines in audience penetration levels, a trend they share with newspapers elsewhere in Europe and the United States; even the Scandinavian countries, PISA winners and always at the top of the list when it comes to the audience penetration levels of their newspapers, are moving dangerously close to the 80 percent mark with regard to the numbers of people who read a newspaper every day. But this is not the whole story. Audience penetration levels are only a measure of the number of people who read printed copies of newspapers and do not take into account the use of newspaper websites on the Internet. Although relevant studies have consistently shown that active Internet users are, at the same time, active newspaper readers, even if there is a relatively large number of persons for whom this holds true, there will nonetheless be many people, particularly among the young, whose use of newspapers as a source of information is exclusively via websites. A procedure for measuring audience penetration levels for both printed and online newspapers that is both accurate and accepted by business advertisers has not yet been devised. The media analysis working group's (ag.ma) intermedia file, which is intended to make print and online user data comparable in the future, could be helpful here.


The audience penetration levels recorded for German printed newspapers are quite high. The currently recorded overall audience penetration level is 72.4 percent. This means that around 47 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 74 and 84 percent. A total of 83 percent of persons over the age of 70 regularly read a daily newspaper and nearly 67 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 39. But younger age groups are also newspaper readers; more than 47 percent of the 14-to-19-year-olds and just under 58 percent of the 20-to-29-year olds show an interest in reading printed daily newspapers.


All in all just under three-fourths of the German population over the age of 14 regularly read a daily newspaper. Slightly more local and regional newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by women (61 percent) than by men (60 percent). More newspapers purchased at newsstands and national newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by men (26.4 percent and 6.8 percent respectively) than by women (15.8 percent and 4.2 percent respectively).


Overall sales stable


In 2007 newspapers showed a slight growth in overall sales from advertising, supplements, and distribution, rising from the previous year's figure of 9.14 billion euros to 9.18 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent. Out of the total sales figure, daily newspapers accounted for 8.63 billion euros, an increase of 0.4 percent.


The economic situation in 2007 was positive once again, with gross domestic product growing by 2.5 percent in real terms, slightly below the figure of 2.9 percent seen in 2006. The inflation rate rose to a level of 2.2 percent (compared to 1.7 percent in 2006). However, newspaper publishers shared in this economic growth only to a limited extent. After a slight rise in advertising sales in 2006 (1.3 percent), there was a decline of 0.9 percent in this area in 2007 compared with the previous year; parallel to this there was a minimal decrease in distribution earnings (-0.01 percent). In view of these results, the old rule of thumb that applied up to the year 2000, to the effect that two-thirds of sales in the newspaper business stem from advertising and one-third from distribution, is not expected to regain its former validity any time soon. In 2007, 53 percent of sales revenues came from advertising and 47 percent from distribution.


Trend in advertising sales


With advertising sales of 4.5 billion euros in 2007 (an increase of 0.7 percent) daily newspapers continue to be the most important advertising medium by far. Advertising sales by weekly and Sunday newspapers rose from 260 to 270 million euros (+3.6 percent); newspaper supplements are no longer listed separately. Total advertising sales for all newspaper categories amounted to 4.83 billion euros (+0.9 percent). The advertising market in Germany grew slightly. The average increase in sales for all advertising media in 2007 was 2.0 percent. The share the newspaper industry had in overall advertising sales stagnated at 23 percent. In the year 2000 it had been 29 percent.


Regional newspapers in western and eastern Germany showed total advertising sales of 3.64 billion euros for 2007. From January to December 2007 advertising volume increased by 1.4 percent: Newspapers in eastern Germany showed a gain of 6.1 percent in advertising volume; their western German counterparts also showed growth but it fell far short of this (+0.9 percent). Net advertising volume trends varied considerably in the different advertising categories. While there was strong growth in job advertisements (27.0 percent) as well as very moderate growth in business advertisements (+1.6 percent) and family advertisements (+0.3 percent), there were decreases in sales volume for travel advertisements (-8.0 percent), car advertisements (-11.1 percent), real estate advertisements (-5.6 percent), event advertisements (-3.2 percent), family advertisements (-0.7 percent), and other advertisement categories (-5.2 percent).


In the first half of 2008 the volume of paid advertisements in local and regional subscription newspapers showed a loss of 1.5 percent compared with the same period the previous year. A positive trend was shown only by job advertisements (+10.2 percent) and family advertisements (+2.9 percent); a negative trend was shown between January and June 2008 by real estate advertisements (-13.1 percent), event advertisements (-5.6 percent), business advertisements (-1.6 percent), car advertisements (-5.0 percent), travel advertisements (-7.9 percent), and other advertisement categories (-2.3 percent).


The insert business was stable in 2007, showing overall growth of 0.6 percent; western Germany showed an increase of 0.8 percent while the eastern part of the country posted a loss of 3.5 percent. In the first half of 2008, on the other hand, there was a decline of 5.7 percent for the country as a whole (-5.6 percent in western and -6.9 percent in eastern Germany).


Circulation at 25.9 million copies


Newspapers in Germany have a total circulation of 25.95 million copies per publication day (German Audit Bureau of Circulations, 2nd quarter 2008). Western Germany accounts for 23.0 million copies and the eastern German states for just under 3 million. This means there was an average decline in circulation of 499,189 copies (-1.9 percent) in comparison with the same quarter the previous year.


Western German newspapers showed a decline of 1.62 percent in circulation (-378,515 copies), while sales in eastern Germany dropped by 3.96 percent (-120,674 copies). Overall declines amounted to -1.78 percent for local/regional newspapers, -2.16 percent for newspapers sold at newsstands, and -4.43 percent for Sunday newspapers. National newspapers and weekly newspapers showed slight gains (+0.24 percent and +1.01 percent respectively). The sold circulation of all categories of newspapers breaks down into 20.43 million copies for daily newspapers, 3.55 million copies for Sunday newspapers, and just under 2 million copies for weekly newspapers. Of the total figure for daily newspapers, 14.3 million copies are accounted for by local and regional subscription newspapers, more than 1.6 million copies by national newspapers, and just under 4.5 million copies by newspapers sold at newsstands.


By: Anja Pasquay pasquay(at)bdzv.de

Status as of: 8/2008