The Norwegian media landscape combines strong national legacy brands and public service media with a reputation for innovation in content and business models. Norwegian media still do comparatively well but have also been affected by rising costs.
Norwegian consumers are again those most willing to pay for news across all 46 markets surveyed this year. With a strong newspaper reading tradition, combined with early investment in building up online subscriptions, the transition to digital subscriptions has been promoted with hybrid solutions that typically bundle paper and digital content. This, and the absence of freesheets, helps to explain the relative success of online news payment with national titles VG, Aftenposten, and Dagbladet cited most frequently. Continuing a trend from last year, evidence from our survey shows a marginal decrease in the percentage saying they had paid for news online (39%, down 2 percentage points), after the peak seen during the COVID pandemic. The decrease is greatest among low-income households (down 8pp), probably due to the rising cost of living.
Illustrating the pivot to podcasts and new subscription models, local newspaper owner Amedia acquired a stake in podcast production company Moderne Media last year, and included podcasts in its innovative all-access online news subscription package +Alt, which provides access to more than 90 titles across the country. Among all who subscribed in our survey, 4% identified as +Alt subscribers. This comes on top of the 50% of subscribers who already pay directly for one or more local or regional titles, which underlines how Norway is far from being a winner-takes-all market.
Financially, Norwegian news providers overall remain comparatively well off. That said, rising costs in 2022 led to several regional newspapers scaling back on print, and Schibsted’s national quality brand Aftenposten announced the end of its Sunday print publication. Entering 2023, Amedia announced a temporary hiring freeze, and Schibsted unveiled a plan for a €50m cut to its news division over the coming two years, citing increasing print costs. This follows Schibsted’s earlier launch of its own all-access online news subscription package giving access to six newspapers, 44 magazines, and a series of podcasts.
Like last year, we see a continued professionalisation and promotion of podcasts for news and current affairs in Norway. Major news companies keep pushing original content, and are adding podcast content to online news subscription bundles to try to attract new customers. The two top podcasts are both deep dives: Schibsted’s Aftenposten Forklart or ‘Explained’ (similar to the New York Times The Daily) and public broadcaster NRK’s Oppdatert.
Everyday access to online news via social media remains a challenge for publishers. While the overall use by Norwegians of social media for news is low, use of TikTok is increasing fast, albeit from a low base (doubling 3pp to 6% since last year), with the increase unsurprisingly concentrated among younger users; a quarter of our respondents under 24 years old now say they use TikTok for news, compared with 57% overall use in that age group.
So-called news avoidance appears as a relatively minor issue in our survey, with the most-avoided topics being the war in Ukraine and climate change and environmental news.
As a NATO member, and a small country bordering Russia, the war in Ukraine has been prominent in Norwegian news. Main topics include humanitarian and military support, and deteriorating relations with Russia, evident from a succession of possible espionage incidents – ranging from suspected drone operations to the arrest of a suspected Russian spy.
A report from a high-profile government-appointed commission on free speech praised conditions for public debate, citing the ample opportunities for citizens to speak out and with reliable and diverse information sources widely available. The commission focused on hate speech and harassment of politicians and people in public life, especially representatives of minority groups. That topic has featured in Norwegian media during the last year, particularly following a terrorist attack during Oslo Pride in June. The recurring discussions of the role of publicly funded NRK also surfaced in the report, which suggested that NRK’s substantial contribution to an informed public debate should be balanced against commercial media companies’ ability to compete. In the subsequent debate, the Norwegian Media Businesses' Association highlighted this point.
Controversial so-called alternative news site Resett, known for right-wing critique of immigrant policy and mainstream media, had a turbulent year with its high-profile editor being dismissed, and successive ownership changes, before the site was bought back by the former editor and merged with new brand iNyheter.
University of Bergen
PSBs NRK and TV2 keep their strong positions in offline news this year. Online, Schibsted-owned VG is first again, followed by NRK and other established brands. Among online business news providers, digital-born E24 – also owned by Schibsted – ranks clearly above legacy brand Dagens Næringsliv (DN).
Pay for online news
Listen to podcast in the last month
Trust in news overall
Trust in news I use
Overall trust in news remains comparatively high, with a slight decline to pre-COVID levels (53%, -3pp), with little polarisation. By brand, trust levels and rankings remain stable, with PSBs and local newspapers at the top. Tabloid news brands and so-called alternative news sites such as Document tend to be less trusted.