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26. Oktober 2009 | Die deutschen Zeitungen in Zahlen und Daten

The situation of newspapers in Germany 2009

For the second time this decade newspapers are feeling the effects of declines in advertising revenues -- particularly in business-cycle-sensitive categories such as job advertisements -- as well as a general decline in subscription and newsstand sales. Like all other classical media, newspapers have been affected by national and global economic trends and this is reflected in advertising sales as well as in the amount of money households spend on newspaper purchases.


Nonetheless, the audience penetration levels recorded for German printed newspapers have continued to be quite high. The overall audience penetration level for 2009 was 71.4 percent. This means that around 46 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 just under 73 and 83 percent. A total of 82.2 percent of persons over the age of 70 regularly read a daily newspaper and 65 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 39. But younger age groups are also newspaper readers; more than 45 percent of the 14-to-19-year-olds and more than 56 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 (60 percent) than by men (58.3 percent). More newspapers sold at newsstands and national newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by men (26.5 percent and 6.9 percent respectively) than by women (15.8 percent and 4.1 percent respectively).



Slight decline in overall sales


In 2008 newspapers showed a slight decline in overall sales from advertising, supplements, and distribution, falling from the previous year's figure of 9.18 billion euros to 9.09 billion, a decrease of 0.97 percent. Out of the total sales figure, daily newspapers accounted for 8.54 billion euros, a decrease of one percent.


The overall economic situation in 2008 continued to be positive, with gross domestic product growing by 1.3 percent in real terms, but was down from the growth figure of 2.5 percent seen in 2007. Average inflation rose to a level of 2.6 percent, the highest it has been in fourteen years (2.2 percent in 2007). Newspaper publishers were able to share only to a very limited extent in this low level of economic growth. After a slight rise in advertising sales in 2007 (0.9 percent), 2008 showed a decline of 4.1 percent in this area compared with the previous year; parallel to this there was an increase in distribution earnings (+2.6 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 2008, 51 percent of sales revenues came from advertising and 49 percent from distribution.




Trends in advertising sales


With advertising sales of 4.37 billion euros in 2008 (a decline of 4.25 percent) daily newspapers continue to be by far the most important advertising medium. Advertising sales by weekly and Sunday newspapers fell from 270 to 266 million euros (-1.5 percent); newspaper supplements are no longer listed separately. Total advertising sales for all newspaper categories amounted to 4.64 billion euros (-4.1 percent). Advertising sector losses for Germany as a whole were undramatic. The average decline in sales for all advertising media in 2008 was 0.5 percent. The share the newspaper industry had in overall advertising sales remained stable at 23 percent. In the year 2000 it had been 29 percent.


Regional newspapers in western and eastern Germany showed total advertising sales of 3.52 billion euros for 2008. Advertising volume declined by 3.5 percent from January to December 2008: Newspapers in western Germany showed a loss of 3.4 percent in advertising volume, while their eastern German counterparts fared even worse with a decline of 5.2 percent. Net advertising volume trends varied considerably in the different advertising categories. While there were only slight losses in job advertisements (-0.8 percent) and business advertisements (-2.7 percent) and an increase in family advertisements (+2.3 percent), there were significant declines in travel advertisements (-7.4 percent), car advertisements (-4.7 percent), real estate advertisements (-14.1 percent), and event advertisements (-6.7 percent).


In the first half of 2009 the volume of paid advertisements in local and regional subscription newspapers showed a sharp decline (-13.6 percent) compared with the same period the previous year. The only category to show an increase was family advertising (+1.1 percent). A negative trend was shown from January to June 2009 by job advertisements (-42.4 percent), real estate advertisements (-18.5 percent), event advertisements (-7.4 percent), business advertisements (-5.8 percent), car advertisements (-18.3 percent), travel advertisements (-4.1 percent), and other advertisement categories (-17.7 percent).


The insert business in 2008 was disappointing, showing a loss of 6.6 percent; the downward trend in this market segment continued in the first half of 2009, showing a further decline of five percent. This was exclusively a result of losses in western Germany; in the eastern parts of the country, by contrast, the insert business showed gains of 1.5 percent in 2008 and of 7.2 percent in the period from January to June 2009.



Circulation at 25.3 million copies


Newspapers in Germany have a total circulation of 25.3 million sold copies per publication day (German Audit Bureau of Circulations, 2nd quarter 2009). Western Germany accounts for just under 22.5 million and the eastern German states for over 8.8 million copies. This means there was an average decline in circulation of 643,692 copies (-2.5 percent) in comparison with the same quarter the previous year.


Western German newspapers showed a decline of 2.4 percent in circulation (-562,612 copies), while sales in eastern Germany dropped by 2.8 percent (-81,080 copies). Specific losses amounted to -1.7 percent for local/regional newspapers, -1.0 percent for national newspapers, -4.8 percent for newspapers sold at newsstands, and -3.3 percent for Sunday newspapers. This time around the weeklies were also hit by losses (-2.3 percent), reversing a consistent record of gains over the preceding years.


The sold circulation of all categories of newspapers breaks down into 19.94 million copies for daily newspapers, 3.43 million copies for Sunday newspapers, and just under two million copies for weekly newspapers. Of the total figure for daily newspapers, a little over 14 million copies are accounted for by local and regional subscription newspapers, more than 1.6 million copies by national newspapers, and just under 4.3 million copies by newspapers sold at newsstands.


By: Anja Pasquay pasquay(at)bdzv.de

Status as of: 8/2009