In a report on digital news media by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, financed among others by the Media Industry Research Foundation of Finland, in 2016 5 percent of Finns aged 18+ named online media as their main source of news. The highest share was for Greece at 27 percent. The younger the age group in question, the bigger the significance of online media as the main source for news.
The significance of the Internet declined evenly in the older age groups, but the rank remained first in all age groups under 55 years. Varying by age, for 8-17 percent of Finns, print newspapers are the main news media. A majority uses websites of newspapers and television when searching for news.
As to the Finns, 63 percent will read news directly from news media websites. News were found by 28 percent of Finns through intermediaries, such as Facebook and Twitter. In the spring of 2015, 21 percent of Finns had watched news videos on the Internet.
According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2016, the share of those who had paid for online news remained at 15 percent, unchanged from the preceding year. The respective share was 20 percent in Sweden and 27 percent in Norway.
Finland is one of the rare countries where online services by traditional media houses are among the most popular news sources. The total reach of Finnish newspapers is increased by the reading of newspapers both in print and online. This combined reading of print and online is due to the bundled subscriptions being offered by the newspapers to their readers. By international comparison, Finnish newspapers are frontrunners with this.
Moving from print to online is not painless. Readers are used to not having to pay for content online. The top position of the two tabloids, Ilta-Sanomat and Iltalehti, in the list of most visited websites, illustrates this. In 2015, only 15 percent of Finns paid for online news and of those having paid for online content, three quarters, or 74 percent, said they are not planning to pay in the future (Digital News Report 2016, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism).
Looking at the changes in media usage between 2014 and 2016, Finnish people have embraced online media, but not at the expense of broadcast news. The printed newspaper sector is declining more slowly than elsewhere due to a strong reading culture. A strong tradition of subscription has made it easier to transition to paid content online. But growth is slow and 74 percent of those already not paying, say they would not do so in the future.
Just eight percent of Finns that had not paid for online news were willing to pay for digital news content in the future. The number of those willing to pay went down three percentage points from 2014. Regarding those who paid for online news, 69 percent had paid with an ongoing payment and less than a quarter had paid by a one-time payment.
During the past few years, digitalisation in media usage has been a dominant matter in professional discussion in the publishing industry. In 2015, more than 90 percent of the total newspaper subscription and media revenue came from printed newspapers. Bundled print and digital subscriptions are more common and about half of daily newspapers offered subscriptions to print-only newspapers.
Of magazine companies, Otavamedia owns five web properties: news portal Ampparit.fi, golf site Golfpiste.com (Golf Spot), web portal Muropaketti.fi for computers, mobiles and IT, Ruoka.fi for cooking and news portal Plaza.fi. Otavamedia has nine digital marketplaces for buying, selling and renting eg boats, cars, farm machinery, car parts and accessories, motorbikes, caravans, vehicles and summer houses.
Almost all the 200 Finnish daily, regional and local newspapers - as well as the free papers - have an online edition with regularly updated editorial material. Traditional newspaper houses, broadcasting companies and media companies have extended the range of their services and products available online. Interestingly, the most popular websites - excluding web portals - are all operated by traditional mass media companies. According to the weekly statistics of Kantar TNS, traditional media houses take up the first five places and eight of them are in top 10. In all, 13 traditional mass media companies are in the top 20 of websites and of those, eight are newspapers, three TV companies, two magazines and one a commercial radio company. For measuring the popularity of websites - like the circulation of newspapers - one recurrent method is to count the weekly visitors.
At the top of all websites are the two tabloids of the country (week 1/2017). Both tabloids, Ilta-Sanomat by Sanoma Corporation and Iltalehti by Alma Media, have lost print circulation during the past five years. Between 2010 and 2014, Ilta-Sanomat lost more than 40,000 copies or 27 percent and Iltalehti 36,000 copies or 34 percent of their circulation. The tabloids remained at the top of all websites, including chat sites, discussion portals and other social networks. Ilta-Sanomat has 2.1 million unique weekly visitors and Iltalehti 1.9 million visitors. One reason for the popularity of online tabloids is the wide range of free content available in comparison with the stricter paywalls of other newspapers.
The third most popular website is that of Yle, the public service broadcasting company, with 1.8 million weekly visitors. The fourth is the largest Nordic daily, Helsingin Sanomat by Sanoma Corporation, with 1.5 million visitors. The fifth is the oldest commercial TV company MTV, owned by Bonnier group Sweden, with 1.4 million visitors. The sixth most popular media website is Taloussanomat (Economy News) by Sanoma Corporation with 884,000 weekly visitors. at the beginning of 2008, Taloussanomat moved from print and online to online only. The seventh is another business-focused newspaper, Kauppalehti by Alma Media, a rival to Taloussanomat, with 645,000 weekly visitors. The circulation of the 5-day print version was 47,732 copies and the total circulation was 101,067 copies, comprising print and digital editions. The share of the digital version is the highest among the Finnish newspapers.
The eight is the biggest regional newspaper, seven-day daily Aamulehti with 466,000 weekly visitors. The ninth most popular media website is the second largest private commercial TV company Nelonen Media by Sanoma Media group with 427,000 visitors a week. The 10th most popular media website is Uusi Suomi by Alma Media with 324,000 visitors, which the first Finnish newspaper available only online, first published in the autumn of 2007. From March 2015 also English-language newspaper Helsinki Times has been an only-online publication which is delivered as a separate section of the UusiSuomi.fi online publication. Between 2007 and 2015, it was a weekly print newspaper. The daily TV bulletins in English language of the Finnish Broadcasting Company will be discontinued at the beginning of March, 2017. Yle focuses on reaching audiences online by Yle News and YLE News in text-TV from page 190 onwards.
Most recent newcomers among the new media are pay-per-view online TV sites, such as those of the two tabloid newspapers: Ilta-Sanomat has ISTV and Iltalehti has IL-TV, both serving live sports programs. Newspapers are helping print subscribers to transition into digital services not by ceasing the print subscription, but by offering bundled subscriptions of print and online editions at only a marginally higher price than that of the print subscription.