The media environment is characterised by one of the highest printed newspaper consumption rates in Europe and by the dominance of the public broadcaster ORF in the television and online news markets.
Top Brands % Weekly Usage (TV, Radio and Print)
|Weekly use||Main source|
|ORF News (inc. radio)||81%||46%|
|Puls 4 news||24%||3%|
|A regional or local newspaper||16%||2%|
Top Brands % Weekly Usage (Online)
|Weekly use||Main source|
|ORF News online||53%||21%|
|Kronen Zeitung online||31%||10%|
|Der Standard online||18%||7%|
|meinbezirk.at – woche.at||12%||1%|
|Die Presse Online||12%||2%|
|Kleine Zeitung Online||11%||5%|
|KroneHit news online||9%||1%|
|ARD news online||8%||1%|
|ZDF news online||8%||1%|
Overview of key findings
By Sergio Sparviero and Josef Trappel
University of Salzburg, with additional research from Stefan Gadringer
In general, 2015 was not a good year for Austrian newspaper publishers, with the most affected brands Der Standard and Kurier suffering a decrease in sales of more than 6%. 1 The former nonetheless reported a small profit in 2015 following a restructuring plan to reduce costs. There was also a fall in sales for Die Presse (about 4%) and for tabloid newspaper Kronen Zeitung (about 2%), which remains the bestselling brand nationally with a weekly average of over 760,000 copies. 2 Magazines were also negatively affected with the Verlagsgruppe News (VGN) merging economic magazines Trend and Format while continuing with the publication of News. In contrast with these general trends, the free newspaper Österreich is distributing 6% more copies than it did a year ago and regional daily newspapers Kleine Zeitung, OÖ Nachrichten, and Salzburger Nachrichten reported a small increase in sales.
While the consumption of news in Austria is still substantially based on traditional distribution, the use of online channels is growing, with more than 50% now using their smartphones for news. This is partly due to the intervention of the regulator (RTR), which facilitated the establishment and growth of virtual operators such as BOB and YESSS.
Interestingly, our survey shows that there is a stronger preference for local brands and content online than is the case for television, where German channels benefit from relatively high rates of usage. The most popular online brands are the public service broadcaster ORF, whose services are visited by over half of online news consumers, and the online edition of the tabloid newspaper Kronen Zeitung. GMX is the only digital news provider listed in the top ten that is not a venture of an Austrian news brand. GMX is a popular German email service that distributes news articles from its portal; most of them contain ‘soft news’ based on news agencies’ reports, although some original content is also part of the mix.
Increased digital news consumption in Austria is partly a result of the growing use of ORF’s news apps, most of which were introduced as late as 2014. These apps along with online editions of the main Austrian news brands have slowed the adoption of paywalls as they provide access to large amounts of information free of charge. Commercial publishers have recently started pushing consumers to pay for digital news. Kronen Zeitung is currently offering digital subscriptions to its e-paper to print subscribers starting from only €2.50 per month, while Der Standard, Kleine Zeitung, Die Presse, and Wirtschaftsblatt are also offering combined print and digital subscriptions. [56. https://apps.derstandard.at/privacywall/Abo?ref=AboWidget%5D
Despite the increase in the consumption of digital news and the strong appeal of online local content, there are currently only two digital native news providers in Austria. In 2015 NZZ.at entered the scene and joined Dossier.at, which was founded in 2012. The former, which is the Austrian local branch of the Swiss brand Neue Zürcher Zeitung, is the only news provider in Austria whose main source of revenue consists of digital subscriptions. However, it suffered from the general low propensity to pay for digital news to the point that NZZ has announced the intention of scaling down its Austrian operations.
In 2015, Austrian news organisations also started to use WhatsApp to promote content. Pioneered by the Der Standard in April 2015, [57. https://apps.derstandard.at/privacywall/2000010646925/Fragen-und-Antworten-zum-WhatsApp-Service-von-derStandardat%5D a similar service is now also offered by Kronen Zeitung, Die Presse, and Ö3.
Paying for news
Austrians remain reluctant to pay for online news, though publishers have been stepping up efforts to charge for content in the last year.
Trust in news organisations and journalists is relatively low compared to many other European countries. This can be understood against the backdrop of a growing number of violations of the Code of Ethics reported to the Press Council (Österreichischer Presserat) [58. https://www.presserat.at/show_content.php?hid=12 .
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