Norwegian media economy: Pandemic causes large ad drop

 | 7 December 2020
20 per cent of advertising revenue is gone due to the Corona pandemic. In its latest media economy report, the Norwegian Media Authority presents new data on Corona’s effect on Norwegian media.

The Norwegian Media Authority has published its annual media economy report, which analyses the development of television, radio and newspapers in Norway over a five-year period, 2015–2019. This year, the authority also presents data from April–August 2020 showing the pandemic's impact on the media economy.

The pandemic exacerbated the ad fall

All media industries have lost revenue during the pandemic, according to the Media Authority's calculations [1]. From April to August this year, total revenues fell by 7 per cent, compared to the same period in 2019.

Worst was the development for the media’s advertising revenues, falling by 19 per cent. Most severe was the fall for local newspapers, losing 25 per cent of their advertising sales.

A small increase in revenue 2019

In 2019, the Norwegian media revenue amounted to NOK 27 billion (EUR 2.7 billion), an increase of just under 1 per cent, compared to the previous year.

The past year was characterised by a continuing increase in user payments in combination with a persistent decline in advertising revenue.

Increasing user payments for the third year in a row

As Norwegians spend more and more money on digital newspaper subscriptions, TV packages and streaming services, the media's user revenues increase.

In 2017, revenues from user payments passed advertising revenue as the media's largest source of income, and in 2019, the paying audience accounted for just under 55 per cent of the media's total revenue (just over 52% in 2018).

For newspapers, readers’ payments accounted for almost 60 per cent of revenues, up from 58 per cent in 2018, with the growth mainly explained by an increasing number of pure digital subscriptions.

For commercial television, over 56 per cent came from subscriptions and distribution revenues, up from 53 per cent in 2018.

The 2019 ad loss: almost half a billion NOK

As for the ad market, the negative development continued. In 2019, media’s revenue from advertising decreased by approximately NOK 450 million, or around 5 per cent compared to 2018.

At the same time, online advertising is increasing in Norway, but with Google and Facebook accounting for the largest growth. In 2019, Google and Facebook's Norwegian advertising revenues were almost NOK 7 billion, compared with newspapers’ just over NOK 4 billion.

For newspapers, the advertising revenues decreased by just over 5 per cent. This was a continuation of several years of losses: in five years, the newspaper industry has lost almost a third of its advertising revenue – mainly due to the decline of print newspapers. Even though the advertising revenues from digital editions increase, they do not compensate for the loss from print.

Television lost just under 5 per cent of its advertising revenue in 2019, compared with the year before, but the industry increased its overall revenues, thanks to higher user revenues.

For commercial radio, advertising is the only source of income. Last year, revenues for the national radio channels fell sharply, with a decline of over 12 per cent.

[1] Data on the impact of the pandemic are based on data from 191 of 257 newspapers, 45 of 218 trade journals, 36 of 190 local radio stations and the four national radio and television companies: Bauer Media, NENT Group, TV2 and Discovery.

Eva Harrie

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