Newsbrand consumption in times of the Coronavirus pandemic

At this time of uncertainty, it is not surprising that visits to news sites increase. Comscore recently analysed the trends across France, Germany, Italy, Spain & the UK, and found that visits to news sites remained broadly unaffected until the week of Feb 17th-23rd when Italy’s numbers started to increase exponentially. In the other four countries visit numbers gradually increased then shot up during the week of Mar 9th-15th. So much so that compared to Dec 3th-Jan 5th visits had increased by 50% in France, 29% in Germany, 142% in Italy, 74% in Spain and 44% in the UK.

Some notable increases include LEFIGARO.fr (France’s biggest news site) which posted it’s biggest ever weekly visit number with over 72m visits. This was circa double an average week and significantly up on previous records of 52m for Charlie Hebdo, 43m for the 2017 Presidential elections and 44m for the Notre Dame fire. While in Spain, leading newsbrands EL MUNDO and EXPANSION (together Spain’s biggest quality news publishing group) saw such notable increases in recent days that website UUs for the entire month of March are on target to be over 70% up and 50% up YoY respectively.

Users are also spending longer on each site. For example, Finland leading newspaper websites ILTALEHTI, KAUPPALEHTI (Finland’s only national business newsbrand) and AAMULETHI have all increased their session times by +20%, +30% and +40% respectively. A trend that is being seen across Europe.

But this only tells part of the story, while visit numbers increased so did digital subscriptions, and they did so irrespective of whether C-19 content was in-front or behind paywalls. Notable examples include… DAGENS INDUSTRI (Sweden’s only national business newsbrand) which increased subscribers by over 400% of target last week and NRC (the Netherland’s largest quality newsbrand) which saw subscribers increase 50% vs the previous week where numbers were already increasing.

While digital is experiencing unprecedented visit/UU growth, print is conversely NOT seeing a like fall in circulation. This is primarily due to a perceived higher proportion of publishers owning (or having greater influence over) their supply chain to readers doors, having a high subscription base (in some cases 90%+ of total sales) or indeed, both. For German newsbrand STERN, magazine subscriptions have been rising notably for several days with the success rate for new customers acquired by telephone 120% vs the norm.

It worth noting that a positive print sales position is not exclusive to newsbrands with a large number of German magazine brands also seeing growth from food retailers. The G+J portfolio is currently seeing an increase of 10% from such retailers including brands such as GALA and GEO WISSEN.

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