The Norwegian media economy in 2018

For the first time, TV advertising is declining in Norway. But as TV viewers pay more for premium content and distribution, the total TV economy is still growing. The Norwegian newspaper industry has a stable level of revenue for the first time since 2011, reports the Norwegian Media Authority.
 | 17 December 2019

The Norwegian Media Authority has published its annual media economy report, analysing the development of television, radio, and newspapers in Norway.  

It shows that in 2018 the Norwegian media revenue amounted to almost NOK 27 billion (EUR 2.8 billion), an increase of just under one per cent, compared to the previous year. In a five-year perspective, the industry's total revenue has increased by 0.1 per cent.

Ad loss continues – now also hitting radio and TV

In 2018, the Norwegian media’s revenue from advertising decreased. For newspapers this was a continuation of several years of losses – in five years, the newspaper industry has lost over NOK 2 billion (EUR 240 million) in advertising revenues – while for radio and television the ad loss was a new experience.

At the same time, online advertising investment increased. In 2018, Google and Facebook raised more advertising money than newspapers on the Norwegian advertising market. Over the past five years, global players, with Google and Facebook at the forefront, have more than tripled their revenues from the Norwegian ad market.

Increasing user payments for newspapers and TV

Since 2017, the Norwegian media industry earns more money from its audience than from advertising. Behind this development is increasing user payments in combination with declining advertising revenue.

For newspapers, the breaking point came already in 2015, when revenue from readers for the first time accounted for more money than advertising. For national commercial television, 2018 was the first time that sales to viewers generated more revenue than advertising. See graph below.

Graph: Distribution of media revenue by different sources of income 2014-2018 (per cent)
Graph: Distribution of media revenue by different sources of income 2014-2018 (per cent)
Source: Medieøkonomirapporten 2018 [The Media Economy Report 2018]

For the first time since 2011 – stable revenue for newspapers

After several dramatic years for the Norwegian newspaper economy, 2018 was relatively stable, according to the report. For the first time, digital revenue compensated for the loss on paper, resulting in newspapers’ total revenue being roughly at the same level as in 2017, mainly explained by more readers’ payments from an increasing number of digital subscriptions.

Looking at the advertising side only, digital revenues also increased, but not enough to compensate for the ad losses for print. Therefore, the total advertising revenue also decreased during 2018 – though not at the same pace as before.

Despite the digital development, the paper-related revenue is still the largest. In 2018, more than 70 per cent of the newspaper industry's total revenue came from print papers.

Radio's only source of revenue decreasing

For commercial radio, advertising is the only source of income. In 2018, revenues for nationwide radio channels fell for the first time, while local radio had approximately the same revenue as the year before.

Growth in TV industry – despite ad loss

Despite an advertising loss in 2018 of NOK 212 million or EUR 22 million (4.7 per cent), total revenues for the national TV channels increased compared to the previous year. This is because revenues from viewers increased by almost NOK half a billion (EUR 50 million), corresponding to 13 per cent. User revenue mainly comes from sales of premium content and distribution, which together have almost doubled over the past five years.

Eva Harrie

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