The Nordic region has traditionally been characterized as a “newspaper region”, with high circulation and extensive readership. But digitalisation and globalisation have rapidly changed the media landscape and media use – and challenged the strong position of the Nordic newspaper markets.
This report, Newspapers in the Nordic Media Landscape 2017, aims to map the development of the Nordic newspaper industries over the past two decades, from a comparative perspective. Some of the trends are presented below.
Stable number of papers – except for Finland
The overall numbers of newspapers in the Nordic countries are rather stable. But while the number of titles in Norway has increased since 2000, Finland has experienced the highest number of newspapers either closing or merging in the same period.
Number of newspapers (paid-for) 2000-2016
Source: Newspapers in the Nordic Media Landscape 2017 (Figure 2.2, Tables 1-2).
The number of daily newspapers has decreased in all countries (except Denmark), but this is mainly due to newspapers changing from dailies to non-dailies.
Loss in circulation, but high online rankings
Circulation data indicate significant drops in circulation in all countries. Daily newspapers have been hit harder than non-dailies, and the largest circulation drop is found among the national single-copy-sold tabloids in each country. These have, on average, lost more than half of their circulation since 2000.
Daily newspaper circulation per thousand inhabitants 2000–2016 (including estimates)
Source: Newspapers in the Nordic Media Landscape 2017 (Figure 2.6, Table 5).
On the other hand, the single-copy-sold tabloids are the most successful domestic online newspapers. Newspaper titles also hold the top positions of the domestic online news outlets in all countries, except for Denmark, where the two public service broadcasters rank higher.
Total revenue drop, but digital growth
The newspapers’ digital sales are increasing. In Norway, where the press has been the most successful in transforming print revenues to digital revenues, a fifth of the revenues in 2016 were from digital sales. Looking at advertising sales only, the digital share amounted to a third in both Norway and Sweden, and a fifth in Denmark.
Newspaper advertising revenue breakdown by print and digital sales 2012–2016 (per cent)
Source: Newspapers in the Nordic Media Landscape 2017 (Figure 3.4, Table 18).
All the same, the newspaper industry’s revenue drop since 2010 has been substantial in all countries, and the industry still depends heavily on print revenues.
Online reading most popular in Norway
Total daily newspaper reach is falling. For a long time, 80 per cent of the respective countries’ populations read a newspaper on the average day, but by 2016 this had shrunk to just over 70 per cent in Norway and roughly 60-65 per cent in Sweden and Finland (no data for Denmark or Iceland). The Norwegians are the region’s most keen online readers, with well over half the population reading a newspaper online daily in 2016.