News portals were among the biggest winners in the German-speaking internet world. These were able to increase their site visits significantly as compared to previous years. This was demonstrated by a long-term study carried out by the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM). According to BITKOM, the most visited internet news portals in Germany will probably reach 4 billion visits by the end of this year.
This corresponds to a plus of 25% even though no major event such as parliamentary elections took place in 2007. This shows that the internet has once and for all established itself as a fourth information source besides newspaper, TV and radio, says BITKOM.
This boom is not only due to the success of general news portals such as “Spiegel Online” or “Focus Online“ given that in the list of the 20 most used news portals those focusing on special topics such as sports or computers are represented there as well. Also important are internet sites of important regional newspapers. All these portals are freely accessible and finance themselves mainly through advertising. In the USA news portals for many years have financed themselves through subscription fees. However, many US news portals now change this strategy.
As far as the use of news portals is concerned, Germans rank somewhere halfway through the European league. While in 2006 in Germany 19% of those aged between 16 and 74 red news online, the EU average was 18%. Leading in this respect are Finland (46%) and Sweden (41%), while Ireland (8%) and Rumania are at the bottom end (7%). Nevertheless, the number of users has significantly increased in almost all EU member states, including Germany, over recent years. The percentage was just 17% in 2005, but for 2007 BITKOM expect 21%. The basis for the BITKOM survey are data provided by the Eurostat Statistical Office.