Germany is considered to be the largest European consumer of news, which only helped to amplify the devastating effects of the surge of the Internet offering free news in the 1990s. For years, the revenue of the entire German newspaper publishing industry has been in a freefall and it looked like there could be no solution. But in 2014, the Business Insider reported that German publishing revenues rose and now it looks like German newspaper companies have the answer to the question that has dogged them for years.
A Strong Surge
In 2013, German newspaper revenues fell another 4.4 percent and the outlook was bleak. But in 2014, revenues only fell by 0.6 percent, which actually indicated a gain of 3.8 percent. After years of struggling just to survive, the German newspaper industry looks like it is on the verge of becoming profitable again and there are a couple of factors at work to help bring about this positive change.
Advertising Revenue Is Down But That Is Okay
Advertising revenue used to represent nearly 80 percent of all of the revenue that newspapers used to generate. When the Internet started offering news for free, those numbers started to plunge. It got to the point where even online advertising revenue was unable to enhance print advertising revenue to the point where publications could break even. Newspapers needed to find a new way of generating revenue and the German newspaper industry has come up with a couple of solutions.
In Germany, paid online news subscriptions are up 30 percent. That has been a huge catalyst in bringing German news revenues up and bringing newspapers to the point of profitability. Many observers think that Germans in general feel that good journalism is worth paying for and that is why so many people have started to buy online subscriptions. For those Germans who are not interested in a full online subscription, a company called Blendle has the answer.
The Dutch company Blendle created a concept called micropayments that allows readers to only pay for the actual articles they want to read. Consumers even have the opportunity to get their money back if they did not like the article at all. The German newspaper market was the first to help test out Blendle and it has been a huge success. With micropayments and full online subscriptions, the German newspaper industry is poised to make a comeback.
The essence of the resurgence of German newspapers is that Germans are not opposed to paying for good journalism. The many German start-up newspapers are taking that into account as they continue to grow their editorial departments and their subscription bases. With all of the success that German newspapers are having with paid subscriptions, industry observers are wondering if other countries can replicate that success and see a resurgence in their own newspaper industries. Only time will tell, but it has become apparent from watching the Germans that people will pay for good journalism and that is good news to the newspaper industry.
Do you think that American newspapers should follow Germany’s example and allow the American public to only pay for content they would like to read?