Norway’s TV industry is in the early stages of a digital transformation due to the advent of online streaming. While live television remains the top destination for news and entertainment, the share of Norwegians watching television daily dropped to an all-time low of 48 percent in 2019. Compared to a decade earlier, when the share of daily TV viewers reached a record 82 percent, Norway’s TV industry now has to compete with a flood of streaming sites and other on-demand video formats. While daily TV consumption in Norway and many other Nordic countries increased in 2020, it is unclear whether this pandemic-induced upwind can last.
In a 2020 ranking of TV channel families in Norway, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) placed first with an audience share of 43 percent. NRK is a government-owned radio and television public service broadcaster operating three national TV channels and other media offerings. The state broadcaster’s channels have held a steady audience share of 38 to 41 percent for over a decade, with a slight rise reported in 2020. A similar upward trend was registered for NRK1, the corporation’s flagship channel and most popular TV station in Norway. Despite all that, NRK’s revenues declined in 2020 for the first time in years - a drop that coincided with the suspension of Norway’s annual TV and radio license fee. While the fee had previously funded NRK’s programming, the service is now financed through the national budget.
While NRK is funded by the government and provides strictly non-commercial programming, Norwegian audiences also embrace commercial TV stations that run on advertisements. According to a recent survey, over 70 percent of Norwegians watched commercial TV channels weekly in 2020, though TV ad revenue in Norway continued its downward curve that year. Audience shares for TV 2, Norway’s second-largest channel, also reached an all-time low of 17 percent in 2020.
Online TV and video-on-demand (VOD)
Similar to other European media markets, Norway’s TV landscape is gradually being transformed by the advance of video streaming solutions. Over the past decade, the share of Norwegians watching videos or TV via the internet jumped from 28 to more than 60 percent, and especially among young audiences, streaming is a much more attractive entertainment option than linear TV. Reacting to the changes in viewing behavior, several Norwegian media companies and state broadcaster NRK have also launched streaming apps for their catalogs of TV content, although online TV is not nearly as popular as video-on-demand in Norway. As of 2021, Norway ranked among the countries with the highest Netflix penetration rates worldwide, leaving no doubt that flexible entertainment options are well on track to claim traditional TV’s primetime spot.
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