In 2016, Serbian citizens spent an average of 175 minutes on the Internet per day, compared to 87 minutes listening to radio, 24.2 minutes reading newspapers, and 14.5 minutes reading magazines. They only spent more time watching television. They also trust Internet the most.
According to 2017 data of the Republicki zavod za statistiku (Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia) 68 percent of Serbian households has Internet connection, which is a 3,3 percent increase compared to 2016 and 4.2 compared to 2015. Broadband connection reaches 61.9 percent of households. Internet is most used for reading online media (75.6 percent), gathering information about products and services (75.5 percent) and accessing social networks (67.8 percent).
The report for 2018 published by We are Social shows that 64 percent of citizens use laptop and desktop in accessing Internet (a decrease of nine percent compared to January 2017). Mobile Internet access is on the rise of 25 percent – it is now 34 percent of total users. Most visited web sites are Google (international and Serbian version), Facebook, YouTube and digital editions of Serbian commercial mainstream media: Blic.rs and Kurir.rs.
The 2014 Law on Public Information and Media implies under the term media, among others, electronic editions of other media, as well as independent electronic publications (editorially designed internet sites or internet portals), and which are registered with the Media Register. The Law states explicitly that internet browsers and aggregators, platforms, such as internet forums, social networks and other platforms, or any other individual electronic publications, like blogs, web presentations and similar electronic presentations, are not classed as media unless registered with the Media Register. Registration in the Media Register is not mandatory, but media companies that are not registered do not have the opportunity to participate in project-based co-financing carried by public authorities at local and national level.
Revenues for online media grew in the last couple of years. In the Serbian advertising market, TV still has the largest part - 56 percent, print is now at 19, while radio and Internet are 11 percent each. The biggest growth of investments in 2015 was recorded in segments of video advertising (128 percent) and mobile advertising (43 percent), with estimated market values of €1.05m million Euros and €1.89m respectively.
Blic online media outlet was first launched in 1999. It is the leading news portal in the country and is ranked number one by many audience research agencies (Alexa, Similarweb and Gemius). Its audience share is of more than 2.5 million users in January 2018. Kurir.rs is the second most visited news website in Serbia (more than 2 million users ). This news portal was founded in 2009 by Adria Media Group in Belgrade. It has a daily production of news and articles based on its print edition. The editorial policy follows the sensationalist and tabloid rhetoric that characterises the print edition. B92.net has around 1.4 million monthly users. It was founded in 1996 as an alternative source of independent news in the era of late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. Since B92 radio station was banned several times, the news portal was seen as a more secure and stable platform for critical voices. Its target audience were intellectuals and cosmopolitan, urban youngsters, opposed to the authoritarian and nationalist regime. Ever since it has been among the top three most popular news portals in the country. As it was growing over the years, it introduced a variety of sub websites and pages, but it was also among the first to launch a mobile application. In the past few years, following the sale to Antenna Group, its content shifted more towards entertainment.
Critical coverage of political, social, economic and media issues in the country, and investigations of corruption and organised crime are mostly present in online media. Alternative journalistic online publications such as CINS, BIRN, KRIK, Istinomer, Insajder, Cenzolovka, Južne vesti, Pescanik and Voice have been launched over the last years. They publish investigative reports, fact-checking journalism, and critical analysis absent in mainstream media. Currently, these are predominantly funded by donations and grants from abroad, which frequently raise accusations against them of being “foreign mercenaries”. At the same time, they are recipients of a number of prestigious national and international journalistic awards.
There are also hundreds of local portals across Serbia. Their work is often marked by a lack of money, a lack of contributors and, if their work is critical of authorities, political and administrative pressures.