Icelandtic newspapers
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Continuing ad loss for Icelandic media

 | 26 February 2021
In 2019, the revenue of the Icelandic media industry decreased by 4 per cent, driven by losses in the advertising market. This is according to newly released data from Statistics Iceland.

Statistics Iceland has published its annual analysis of the domestic media market, reporting that in 2019, the Icelandic media's total revenue decreased by 4 per cent. This is due to advertising revenue dropping by 17 per cent, while audience revenue actually increased by 6 per cent.

A timeline spanning over two decades shows how the media revenues plummeted during the economic crisis. Between 2007, the economic peak, and 2010, revenues decreased by almost 30 per cent in fixed prices.

The fall was followed by some recovery, but for a few years since, declining advertising revenues are pushing the curve down again (see graph below).

Graph: Icelandic media revenues 1997–2019 in fixed prices (index)
Graph: Icelandic media revenues 1997–2019 in fixed prices (index)
Source: Media Revenue 2019, Statistics Iceland (February, 2021)


Consequently, the audience is becoming increasingly important to the media. After a negative development in 2018, the media's audience revenue turned upwards again in 2019, a raise by 6 per cent. Thus, during 2019, audience payments contributed 58 per cent of the media's total revenue.

The TV industry is Iceland's largest media sector, accounting for over half (52%) of media revenues in 2019, followed by newspapers (21%) and radio (14%). Following suit are the Icelandic web media (7%) and magazines and other periodicals (6%).

Compared with the year before, the TV industry increased its share by four percentage points at the expense of the newspaper industry, which lost the same amount.

In 2019, five companies (including the public service company RÚV) accounted for 86 per cent of total media revenues. Their total share of the media audience revenue (subscription and user fees) was as much as 93 per cent, while the share of advertising revenue was 76 per cent.


Media revenue is defined as revenue from users (subscription fees, single-copy sales and pay-per-view, as well as broadcasting fees levied upon all eligible individuals and companies), advertisements and sponsoring. The data does not include foreign media.

The data is derived from the media companies’ information to Fjölmiðlanefnd, the Icelandic Media Commission, from 2011 onwards (previously Statistics Iceland), and annual accounts. In instances when information is missing from media operators, revenues are estimated based on VAT reports and other available information.


Eva Harrie

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