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Digital news purchases worldwide 2020

News audiences in Norway were by far the most likely to pay for online news according to a global study on paid digital news content consumption, with 42 percent having paid for news online in the last year. Ranked second was Sweden, followed by the United States and Poland.
With the changing media landscape leading to more and more consumers turning to digital sources to access the news, publishers are adding paywalls on their sites. However, not all consumers are equally inclined to pay for digital news content. UK news audiences for example were substantially less likely to pay for online news than U.S. consumers.

Why pay for online news?

The reasons for paying for news are diverse and dependent on various factors. The digitalization of news allows stories to be shared and disseminated on a global scale, but not all sources are reliable or credible. For consumers, it is often difficult to identify trustworthy news sources, and as such which sources they would happily pay for.

Consumers may also be reluctant to pay for news because of the sheer amount of free content online. Whilst the availability of free content made news more accessible, at the same time this impacts journalists and publishers. In Finland for example, this has led to a correlated decrease in sales of printed content. As traditional print publications move online, there is also a growing reliance on advertising to generate revenue. Users are encouraged to pay for access to restricted material as publishers limit content to members only. Consumer’s willingness to pay was seen to be dependent on content, with Americans happier to pay for news than features or e-magazines.

Impact of the coronavirus

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing millions across the globe to stay at home, having access to digital news has never been more crucial, accordingly an increase of subscribers paying for premium news content could be expected. However the health crisis has also led to economic hardship for many, which may instead lead to people cutting out luxuries such as paid news subscriptions. In the UK for example, 2020 saw a decrease in people paying for news content compared to the previous year. With the pandemic dominating news reports, 2020 also saw audiences experience news fatigue, and after a year of news coverage saturated with coronavirus updates, consumers may feel the need to switch off entirely.

Share of consumers who paid for online news content in selected countries worldwide in the last year as of February 2020

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Release date

June 2020



Survey time period

February 2019

Number of respondents


Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

*Sample size was 2,000 per market.
Question: Have you paid for online news content, or accessed a paid for online news service in the last year? (This could be a digital subscription, combined digital/print subscription or one off payment for an article or app or e-edition). Among those who answered 'yes'.

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Statistics on "Paid content in U.S. print and digital media"

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