Axel Springer hits one million digital subscriptions in major milestone

Axel Springer has today reported that its total journalistic offerings surpassed the one million digital subscriptions mark for the first time in May 2021, a record for the company which is Europe’s largest digital publishing house.

The digital contents of Bild, Insider, Welt, Politico Europe, Gründerszene, as well as the brands of Ringier Axel Springer Media AG, including,, and the Serbian Blic, boast a total of 1,006,800 subscriptions* between them. The IVW-audited German brands Bild and Welt reached 540,177 and 157,230 digital subscribers respectively in May 2021.

This milestone comes a good decade after Axel Springer took its first steps into paid content in 2009, with paid subscription models for the iPhone apps of Bild and Welt as part of its Premium Initiative.

In 2012, Welt became one of the first German media brands to launch a digital subscription, WELTplus. BILDplus followed about half a year later and now ranks among the top 10 media brands internationally with the most digital subscribers – alongside the Guardian and the Financial Times as the only European media brands, as reported in the FIPP/CeleraOne Global Digital Subscription Snapshot Q1 2021.

The brand new Snapshot for 2021 Q2 will launch today at the FIPP D2C Summit in a session with partners CeleraOne. FIPP CEO James Hewes and York Walterscheid, Managing Director, CeleraOne, Germany will present and discuss the latest findings on digital subscriptions across the board.

Axel Springer’s paid content offerings once again achieved or exceeded their ambitious growth targets last year, growing by double-digit percentages. Insider and the brands of Ringier Axel Springer Media AG achieved triple-digit growth.

Today, more than 50 per cent of Axel Springer’s revenues in the News Media segment come from the digital business, establishing another important revenue pillar alongside marketing thanks to the strong focus on paid content.

The company is also now reaping the benefits from its strategic international expansion of the past years. Its Insider and Politico Europe brands – both of which are digital-native – have been pioneers in diversifying revenue beyond advertising, part of which was the successful development of their thriving subscription businesses. In fact, both companies now generate more than half of their revenues from sources other than ads. At Politico Europe, as much as 60 per cent of revenue came from its innovative subscriber platform in 2020.

Jan Bayer, President, News Media commented: “A large proportion of our journalistic offerings are now consumed digitally. And people are more willing than ever to pay for well-researched and exclusive stories on the Internet. This validates the strategy we have been pursuing from early on – and it’s the best recognition of our journalistic work I can imagine.

We will continue to invest money and time to expand our existing paid content offering, to provide our users with the best and most exciting stories, and to be able to continue operating independent journalism profitably in the future. We will also be launching paid offerings with further brands this year.”

In a video to mark the milestone of one million digital subscribers, journalists from the various brands provide insights into their most unusual and interesting research — from the faked death of a Corona denier to the EU’s vaccine procurement strategy and Ukrainian surrogate mothers in Poland. A long version of the video (about 5 minutes) is available here.

Stories like this will also be taking center stage in the new podcast series Journalist Club, which launches on 17 June, 2021. The podcast will act as a vehicle for journalists to share their most exciting stories and the research behind them.  

*About the calculation: The total number of digital subscriptions was calculated based on the monthly average in May, i.e., the sum of all daily subscription values divided by the 31 days of May. Both B2C and B2B digital subscriptions of all journalistic brands in which Axel Springer holds a stake of at least 50 per cent were included in the calculation. The individual number of subscribers is only disclosed for the IVW-audited media Bild and Welt.


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