Most observers agree on the fact that the Norwegian media group Schibsted has followed these last 20 years an efficient and clever strategy. The result can be read today. The Norwegians are one of the most profitable and promising groups in Europe.
While they kept their various newspapers in Norway and Sweden, in spite of the fact they keep losing readership and advertising, they started very early to develop a huge and proseperous activity in classified ads on the web. Their flagship company which is in France, Leboncoin, turns up more than 30% of the total income of the group and they have launched classified ads branches in 24 countries. At the same time, they have given up their investments in 20 Minutes, a free sheet that never made it in France and Spain.
Now, it appears that the future of Schibsted lies with a world network of digital ads while their news activities are slowly falling into obsolescence.
if you look at another very successful media operator, the German Springer, you see the same process. Springer keeps its old newspapers, Bild which has still a circulation of 2 millions copies and the more high brow Die Welt. However, its digital department with prosperous websites on housing, wemen and classifieds is turning over most of the income. In a few years , Springer executives will have to find a solution for their ailing dailies and maybe build up a digital only news service which will be good for their image if not for their finance.
Now we wait for the second quaterly results of the New York Times, a news only company which is still fighting a uphill battle.