The Austrians like their media. Whether watching TV, listening to the radio or reading the newspaper, the viewers, listeners and readers are faithful consumers of media content. They also appear to be receptive for new products and channels.
Figures don’t lie, or so they say: A recent EU survey (“Eurobarometer”) has revealed that 72 per cent of Austrians think their national media provide reliable information. Across the EU as a whole, only 53 per cent express the same view about their media. In Austria, radio broadcasting is considered particularly reliable, followed by TV and newspapers. Social media, blogs and video portals, on the other hand, are only rated as reliable by four in ten respondents. In these times of fake news, the figures are a clear indication of the high status of the media in Austria. A similar conclusion is reached by Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2016, which states that there is still heavy reliance on traditional media, such as television and print media, as sources of news in preference to online and social media. Figures don’t lie, or so they say: A recent EU survey (“Eurobarometer”) has revealed that 72 per cent of Austrians think their national media provide reliable information. Across the EU as a whole, only 53 per cent express the same view about their media. In Austria, radio broadcasting is considered particularly reliable, followed by TV and newspapers. Social media, blogs and video portals, on the other hand, are only rated as reliable by four in ten respondents. In these times of fake news, the figures are a clear indication of the high status of the media in Austria. A similar conclusion is reached by Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2016, which states that there is still heavy reliance on traditional media, such as television and print media, as sources of news in preference to online and social media.
Open-minded about digital media
However, the Austrians are by no means conservative in terms of their media usage. According to the latest data from Österreichische Web-Analyse (ÖWA), almost 84 per cent of the population uses the Internet. 70 per cent of users already access the Internet via mobile devices. In the 14- to 19-year-old age group, mobile use is as high as 97 per cent. What they do on the Internet? They use search machines, send emails and check the weather forecast. On the subject of search machine use, Google has found out what the Austrians searched for most frequently in 2016: The European Football Championship Euro 2016 came top of the list, followed by Pokémon Go and David Bowie. According to ÖWA data, the ORF.at network, with a reach of 3,215,000 unique users (52 per cent) per month, ranks first among the online domains, closely followed by styria digital one, the umbrella domain of the third-largest Austrian media company, Styria Media Group, and the bidders’ portal willhaben.at, which also belongs to the Styria Group. Among the individual domains, willhaben.at (3,044,000 unique users or 49.2 per cent) is in first place ahead of orf.at and the information domain derstandard.at belonging to the publishing house Standard.
E-paper strategy gives print a boost
The international circulation figures for most print titles are on the decrease. Although newspapers and magazines in Austria are no exception to this trend, circulation and reach figures are holding up incredibly well by international standards. Moreover, the publishing houses are increasingly managing to counteract the downward trend in print circulation by means of innovative strategies in the reader, distribution and advertising market. According to Österreichische Auflagenkontrolle ÖAK (association of advertising agencies and print media that monitors circulation figures), the provincial newspapers, which traditionally have a strong regional readership base, have been particularly successful in maintaining almost unchanged circulation figures. Also remarkable is the fact that their e-paper offerings have made sizeable gains and now account for a double-digit proportion of circulation in some cases.
Urban centres and the ever-popular freebies
The country’s capital city is a hotspot for free and tabloid media. The free newspapers “Heute” and “Österreich”, which are available from busy locations, achieve a 33 and 19 per cent share respectively of Vienna’s all-important readership market. Also competing on the tabloid market is the “Kronen Zeitung”, the country’s biggest paid daily newspaper, which achieves a 26 per cent share (although its nationwide readership is around 31 per cent). The titles consisting mainly of so-called “Bezirksblätter” (neighbourhood newspapers) published by the free newspaper alliance Regionalmedien Austria (RMA) — a cooperation between the Styria Media Group and Tiroler Moser Holding (“Tiroler Tageszeitung”) — have seen slight increases in circulation. Overall, however, the free newspapers continue to take the lead. According to “World Press Trends 2016”, 159.5 issues of Austria’s free newspapers are circulated per 1,000 inhabitants — a figure unparalleled in any other country.
Turbulent year for TV, stable year for radio
The Austrian TV landscape experienced a certain amount of upheaval in 2016: In the spring, Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of Red Bull Media House, was intending to close down the company’s own TV station, Servus TV (market share in 2016: 1.8 per cent) — since discontinued in Germany — due to internal wrangling. Ultimately, however, the plan was abandoned. The autumn saw the start of negotiations on the sale of the private Austrian TV station ATV (market share 2.5 per cent) to the media group ProSiebenSat.1 Puls 4; the deal has now been completed. The German broadcasting companies affiliated to RTL and ProSieben (with market shares of around 4.5 per cent in most cases) are succeeding in generating considerable additional advertising revenue via their advertising windows in Austria — much to the chagrin of the domestic broadcasters. The public broadcasting corporation ORF remains top dog, with market shares of between 12 and 21 per cent (ORF eins and ORF 2). Everything is stable on the radio front: With 184 minutes of listening time and 77 per cent daily reach, radio is a medium that attracts above-average audiences in Austria. This media genre also includes a considerable number of well-established private radio stations, albeit mostly regional ones.
OOH surprisingly successful, cinema ever-popular
Turnover in the cinema market remains stable. In 2016, there were 16.6 million box office admissions. Given that Austria is the land of billboarding par excellence, it is not surprising that Out of Home (OOH) advertising has become firmly rooted in the media landscape. Our country has the highest billboard density in proportion to the number of inhabitants, especially in heavily built-up areas, where high exposure is guaranteed. The market is primarily shared between two players: Epamedia with 18,500 billboard locations and Gewista with 17,000. Digital Out of Home advertising (DOOH) is one of the fastest-growing media genres. New formats and combinations are emerging at a breathtaking pace, making it possible to target people on the move quickly and cost-efficiently. •
Vienna is the hotspot for free and tabloid media.