In Norway, the number of newspapers with paywalls for online content continues to increase. The number of digital newspaper subscriptions is also growing. This has resulted in a slow-down in the decreasing of circulations, according to a 2016 report on Norwegian newspapers (Avisåret, 2016).
In Norway, the drop in newspaper circulations slowed down considerably last year. Overall, circulations decreased by 1 per cent compared to a 5 per cent loss the year before. This means that a continuing drop in print sales (minus 8 per cent in 2016) was compensated by an increase in the sales of digital subscriptions.
Standalone digital subscriptions account for 13 per cent of total circulation, an increase from 7 per cent in 2015. However, the most widely used subscription model includes a combination of printed newspapers and access to digital services.
A majority of newspapers have paywalls
Payment models for the online content of newspapers was introduced in 2011. A breakthrough came in 2015 when the number of newspapers with pay models for online news more than doubled—from 55 to 125 newspapers. Since then, growth has continued, and by the end of last year 151 newspapers were charging for online news.
The most common pay model is a hard paywall: a restrictive approach whereby self-produced news is available to subscribers only.
Number of Norwegian newspapers with a pay model for online news 2011-2016
Source: Høst, Sigurd "Avisåret 2016"
Norway's three major newspaper groups—Schibsted, Amedia, and Polaris Media—have actively contributed to the growth of paywalls. For example, the sharp increase in 2015 of paywalls is mostly explained by Amedia introducing a digital strategy for the group’s newspapers. Among Amedia’s more than 60 paid-for newspapers, nearly all have switched to the new pay model.
As for newspapers with no paywalls for online content, they are mostly local non-dailies. Only seven of 71 daily newspapers offered their total online content for free by the end of 2016.
About the report: The report is 22nd in an annual series on Norwegian newspapers and covers all Norwegian newspapers. The report series documents and analyses newspaper trends such as newspaper circulation, frequency of issues, pricing, ownership, digital payments, and so on. Author Sigurd Høst holds the position of Adjunct Professor at Volda University College.
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