NEWS | 8 Jun 2016

Considerable increase in newspaper paywalls in Norway

The number of Norwegian newspapers with paywalls for online content more than doubled last year. A report on the Norwegian newspaper year 2015 (Avisåret 2015) shows how the newspapers gain new revenues by introducing online payment models, more user-friendly e-papers, and new types of digital subscriptions.

In the annual report on the newspaper year 2015, media researcher Sigurd Høst presents the situation and trends for the Norwegian newspapers. In recent years he has specifically tracked the digital development, and identifies 2015 as a digital turning point.

More newspapers are charging for content online
Payment models for newspapers’ online content were introduced in 2011. At the end of 2014, 55 Norwegian newspapers had introduced some form of payment on the web; a year later this figure was 125. Thus, the number of newspapers with paywalls more than doubled in a year, and they are now more numerous than those with free content.

The most common model is a “hard paywall”, a restrictive approach whereby self-produced news is available to subscribers only.

Fewer sell print-only subscriptions
The year 2015 also saw a major shift in the models for subscriptions. Fewer and fewer newspapers offer subscriptions to paper versions only. Instead, the most widely used model has two options: either a combination of the printed newspaper and access to the digital services, or a digital subscription only.

The biggest drop in circulations so far
The newspaper industry, however, has long been characterized by declining circulation and advertising revenue, and 2015 was no exception. The total circulation in Norway (including print and digital) decreased by five per cent compared to 2014, which is a sharper decline than in previous years. Counting only paper versions, the circulation fell by nine per cent.

Digital revenues not large enough
Even though papers have cut costs and done a great deal to gain new revenues, the digital revenues are not large enough to compensate for the declining print trends. The paper versions still stand behind the largest share of newspaper revenues.

A great number of newspapers
Norway has the largest number of newspapers among the five Nordic countries, and in 2014 Norway set a post-war record with 230 titles. A year later, the country has 228 newspapers. They are published in 187 different locations (unchanged since last year). In the report, Høst writes that despite decreasing circulations, the Norwegian newspaper structure has remained quite stable so far, without any extensive newspaper death.

Download "Avisåret 2015" via the Volda University College website


About the report: The report, the 21st in the annual series on the Norwegian newspapers, covers all Norwegian newspapers. Author Sigurd Høst holds the position of Adjunct Professor at Volda University College.