The Norwegian media industry now earns more on payments from viewers and readers than on advertising sales. This is reported in the Norwegian Media Authority's analyses of the media economy in Norway in 2017.
In its annual media economy report, the Media Authority analyses the development of newspapers, television and radio in Norway, looking at turnover and profitability at the industry level as well as for individual companies.
In 2017, the revenues for Norwegian newspapers and broadcasters amounted to over NOK 26 billion (almost EUR 2.8 billion), an increase of two per cent compared to 2016. Profitability also increased compared to the previous year.
User revenues increasingly important
Of the media industry's two major sources of revenues – advertising sales and user payments – the advertising sales have always accounted for most of the industry's total revenue.
This pattern was broken in 2017, however, and for the first time payments from users accounted for most of the money. Behind the shift are increased revenues from TV viewers and newspaper readers, combined with falling advertising revenues for newspapers.
Media revenues distributed on advertising sales and user payments 2013 to 2017 (NOK millions)
Growth for commercial TV
As for the commercial TV industry in Norway, payments from viewers (sales of channel packages and streaming services) and distribution revenues continued to increase in 2017.
Moreover, the revenues from TV commercials also continued to rise, despite the ongoing shift in viewing from linear TV to streamed content. The explanation for this, the report suggests, is that the advertisers judge that there is still no better alternative to TV ads for reaching out to their audiences. For the national commercial radio in Norway, advertising revenues fell slightly from 2016 to 2017.
Continuing ad losses for newspapers
The past five years have been dramatic for Norwegian newspapers, with a loss of almost 40 per cent of advertising revenues. In 2017, advertising sales decreased by almost NOK 500 million, or nine per cent. The decline is in print adverting, while the digital advertising revenues in 2017 remained at about the same level as the year before. Due to the long-term decline in ad revenues, payments from readers became the newspaper industry’s largest source of revenue already in 2015.
As for newspaper sales to readers, the sales of digital editions constitute a growing share. This development, which has gained momentum in the last three years, is largely due to an increasing number of newspapers having a digital payment model, and the fact that Norway introduced zero VAT for digital editions on par with the print editions in 2016. 2017 was the first time in almost twenty years to see a slightly positive development for the newspaper circulation.
Even though the newspapers’ digital revenues are growing, this compensates for only half of the decline in paper-related revenues. Still, in 2017, the newspaper industry was more profitable than the other media industries. The positive result, however, is due to cost cuts, and the Media Authority judges that newspapers’ profitability will see continued pressure in the future.
Google and Facebook take a large ad share
A main reason for the decline in newspaper advertising revenues is Google and Facebook taking increasingly larger shares of the Norwegian advertising market. Since 2013, the two global players have increased their market share by 14 percentage points, while the newspaper industry has lost the corresponding share, according to the report.
In 2017, a total of NOK 9 billion was invested in Internet advertising in Norway. The Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association (Mediebedriftene) estimates that around NOK 4.2 billion, or almost half of the online advertising investments in Norway, went to Google and Facebook.
About the report: Medieøkonomirapporten 2017 [The Media Economy Report 2017] is the Norwegian Media Authority’s annual report on the media industry's economic development, with a focus on news and current-affairs media. Included are paid-for newspapers, national TV and radio, plus local TV and radio and free papers. Foreign pay-TV services (such as Netflix and HBO) are not included. This year's report looks at developments over a five-year period, from 2013 to 2017. The report is published in Norwegian. Read more about the Media Authority in English.