According to CEO Mathias Dopfner, 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," Dopfner told the dpa news agency.
Dopfner 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 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 available, said Dopfner: "'Bild' is part of the DNA of Axel Springer," 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."
Only recently did Springer again significantly trim 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 Dopfner.
Stepstone to go public
Axel Springer has been pursuing a digitization strategy for a long 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 Dopfner. "You can go from 4th to 3rd, from 3 to 2nd, maybe even one day from 2nd to 1st. It's not impossible."
Of Springer's sales of around 3.9 billion euros last year, 85 percent came from the digital business. It even contributed more than 95 percent to the profit of around 750 million euros. 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 – such as its job portal Stepstone. Dopfner estimated Stepstone's sales last year at more than one billion euros, which is twice as much as two years ago. At the moment, however, the overall environment is unfavorable for an IPO.