By the end of 2014, 85% of Italian newspapers had both a digital and a print version. These digital offerings typically consist of two different product types: a digital version of the printed newspaper in pdf format or in the form of app for mobile devices; or, a website, mostly free, where the newspaper contents are enriched with pieces specifically written for the web and embedded with videos and pictures. Articles for the web are organised to optimise their visibility on search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo; and social networks, which are beginning to represent a significant channel for incoming traffic flows.
However, for the time being, revenues arising from these digital offerings are generally not enough to cover losses accrued by the press side of the business. In 2014, only 10% of the newspaper industry’s total revenues could be attributed to digital products (although this percentage still represented twofold growth from revenue five years earlier). Yet, within these revenues, 69% was derived from the sale advertising spaces, exposing publishers to the demands of advertisers. Local publishers, with their more limited audience capacity, therefore tend to be less involved in the digital process than the national ones.
As to digital circulation in 2015, first place belonged to Il Sole 24 Ore, with about 220,500 digital copies per day; followed by Corriere della Sera, with 81,700 digital copies; la Repubblica, with 60,100 digital copies; la Stampa, with 30,400 digital copies; and, finally Italia Oggi, with 17,600 digital copies.
Among local newspapers, Il Gazzettino was the most popular, with a daily circulation around 6,400 digital copies, followed by il Resto del Carlino’s 3,500 digital copies, and il Mattino and La Nazione with 2,800 and 2,100 digital copies each.
Despite the limited capacity for online channels to attract revenue, most of the main television players are beginning to integrate digital offerings – most commonly through websites and apps. One prominent example is RayPlay, launched in September 2016 by RAI, which allows viewers to watch a number of live programmes and catch up on those they might have missed for free. In-programme social media interactions, as well as social media discussions about television, are also growing. According to 2016 Nielsen data, more than 1 billion tweets from Italians referenced at least one of the 10,600 programmes that aired in 2015. Of these tweets, around 44 million were mainly devoted to talent shows, sport, and reality shows.