The Nordic countries lead the world in paying for online news. This is according to the Digital News Report 2018, which compares online news consumption in 37 countries, including Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has published its seventh annual report, looking to track and compare changes in online news consumption across countries. Europe remains a key focus, but the report also covers the US, Canada, and a number of countries in Asia and Latin America.
More people pay for online news
Across all countries in the survey, the Nordic countries stand out as the most willing to pay for online news. Norway and Sweden top the league, with 30 and 26 per cent paying for online news, respectively. Eighteen per cent in Finland and 15 per cent in Denmark pay for online news (see the figure below).
Even if paying for online news has edged up in many countries, the significant increases are found in Sweden (+6 percentage points since 2017), Norway (+4), and Finland (+4). In Denmark, however, the level of payment for online news holds steady.
All these countries have a small number of publishers, the majority of whom are relentlessly pursuing a variety of paywall strategies, and there is a strong tradition of reading and subscription.
Share of Internet users in the Nordic countries paying for online news 2016-2018 (%)
Smartphone the Number 1 device for news
In the highly connected Nordic countries, online and mobile media are the main routes to news. Almost all Nordics use online news weekly, from 82 per cent in Denmark to 87 per cent in Norway and Sweden.
For accessing online news, the smartphone is becoming increasingly important: it is the Number 1 device for news in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and is continuously growing as a news platform (+7 percentage points in Denmark, +8 in Finland and Norway, and +5 in Sweden). In Finland, despite the smartphone growth, the computer is still slightly more common for accessing online news.
News via social media
After years of growth, the use of social media for news has started to fall in a number of key markets. In the Nordics, where social media are used as a source of news by many (82-87 per cent on a weekly basis), the total level of use is almost unchanged this year, with the exception of Denmark, which is down 7 percentage points. The general downward trend is due mainly to a decline in using Facebook for news, which is also true for Denmark (down 5 points).
Still, Facebook is by far the most used social media platform for news in the Nordic countries (from 42 per cent in Finland to 53 per cent in Sweden per week), followed by YouTube in Finland, Norway and Sweden (12-15 per cent). The use of most of the platforms remains almost unchanged this year, the largest increases being for Snapchat in Norway and YouTube in Finland (+4 points)
Among the Nordic countries’ top five social media for news, Facebook is followed by other global networks. Finland is the exception to this, with the domestic chat/discussion forum Suomi24 in a stable fifth position, and an unchanged 5 per cent using it to read news every week.
More key findings
Read the full report to learn more about the changing shape of social media and an increasing importance of messaging apps for news, issues of media trust and misinformation, the development of ad-blocking, podcasts and videos, and the most and least trusted media brands in each country, and more.
Country reports in national languages:
Denmark: Danskernes brug av nyhedsmedier 2018,
including Nordic comparisons
RUC Roskilde University
Norway: Bruksmønstre for digitale nyheter,
University of Bergen
Important to note about the survey sample: Because this survey deals with news consumption, anyone indicating they had not consumed any news during the past month was filtered out. The report is based on an online survey, and as such the results will underrepresent the consumption habits of people who are not online (typically older, less affluent, and with limited formal education).
The core purpose of the survey is to track activities and changes over time within the digital space – as well as to gain an understanding of how offline and online media are used together. The research was conducted by YouGov, using an online questionnaire, at the end of January/beginning of February 2018.