The corona pandemic has had a major impact on the Nordic news media. At the same time as advertising revenues have fallen drastically, interest among the audience for professional news coverage has increased, according to a new report from Nordicom at the University of Gothenburg. Several Nordic media companies have also reported record sales of digital subscriptions as a result of the pandemic.
Covid-19 swept over the Nordic region and the rest of the world with full force in the spring of 2020. A year later, the pandemic still has the world in a strong grip. However, both the health-related and the economic consequences of the virus have varied between the Nordic countries. The same goes for the political response. There are also differences within the Nordic region when it comes to the consequences of the pandemic for the media sector. Nordicom at the University of Gothenburg has, on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers, mapped the development of the private news media during the pandemic year of 2020. The study was carried out in collaboration with media researchers from all the Nordic countries.
The rapid slowdown in the Nordic economies during the spring of 2020 immediately led to a dramatic decline in the willingness to invest in the Nordic advertising markets. The fall in advertising was particularly large in printed newspapers, where the decline in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden amounted to around 25 per cent in 2020. This corresponds to a loss of revenue of about EUR 290 million. At the same time, investment in online advertising increased in three out of four countries. At the same time as the private news media have found it increasingly difficult to retain their advertisers, the opposite has happened in the audience market. In 2020, a significant increase in the reach of news media of various kinds was reported from all the Nordic countries – not least online. The increased interest in news has also led to an increased willingness to pay for the digital content of the news media.
The results of the report point to a clear increase in the proportion of households in the Nordic countries that choose to pay for news online. The dramatic fall in the advertising market in the spring of 2020 was followed by an intense debate on special support measures for the media sector in the Nordic region. However, the differences between the Nordic countries were large. In relation to population size, direct support for private news media was about ten times larger in Sweden and Denmark than it was in Finland in 2020.