Axel Springer wants to say goodbye to printed newspapers
A large part of Axel Springer’s income already comes from the digital business. The head of the media company no longer sees a future for print editions of newspapers such as “Bild” and “Welt”.
According to CEO Mathias Döpfner, the printed newspaper at the media company Axel Springer (“Bild”, “Welt”) no longer has a future. “My goal is to complete the digital transformation and turn Axel Springer into a purely digital company,” said Döpfner of the news agency dpa.
Döpfner did not name a date for the end of the printed matter. “I don’t know when. But it is absolutely clear that one day there will be no printed ‘Bild’ newspaper, no printed ‘Welt’ and no printed newspaper at all at Axel Springer. Except for maybe special editions.”
Print runs have been declining for decades. Most recently, the printed edition of the “Bild” newspaper had fallen below one million, while sales of the electronic edition (“e-paper”) increased.
“Bild” news channel “not the right idea”
“Bild” as the largest German tabloid is not up for grabs, said Döpfner: “‘Bild’ is part of Axel Springer’s DNA,” said the manager, who has led the group since 2002. But the 60-year-old also left no doubt that there would be “separation of employees” in the workforce of the print brands: “In one place there will be less, in the other more.”
Just recently, Springer had again significantly trimmed the program of the TV channel “Bild TV”, which only started in August 2021. Viewer ratings fell short of expectations. “In retrospect, this highly ambitious news channel concept was not the right idea,” said Döpfner.
Stepstone is to go public
Axel Springer has been pursuing a digitization strategy for some time. In autumn 2021, the company also significantly expanded its US business with the purchase of the Politico media group. The digital brands “Insider” and “Morning Brew” also belong to this business. The group obviously has high hopes for this. “Today we are the fourth largest publisher in the USA in terms of reach,” says Döpfner. “You can go from 4th to 3rd, from 3 to 2nd, maybe even one day from 2nd to 1st. It’s not impossible.”
85 percent of Springer’s sales of around 3.9 billion euros last year from the digital business. It even contributed more to the profit of around 750 million euros 95 percent at. The German media company now has 18,000 employees in over 40 countries.
The group also wants to finance its further plans by listing parts of the company on the stock exchange – for example its own Job exchange portal Stepstone. Döpfner estimated Stepstone’s sales last year at more than one billion euros, which is twice as much as two years ago. However, the overall environment for an IPO is currently unfavorable.