In Finland reading the newspaper every day is a way of life, with print and online versions playing equally important roles. Two very different Sanoma newspapers are going a long way towards satisfying Finns’ appetite for news.
For outsiders, it’s hard to imagine how important newspapers – both in print and online – are to the average Finn. For example, Sanoma’s publications Helsingin Sanomat (known in Finland as HS) and Ilta-Sanomat (IS) are household names.
Way of life
HS reports about the events of the world every day; there are only 12 days a year when there is no printed edition. Putkiranta adds more context: “HS is quite simply a way of life, a daily habit and an important part of our cultural heritage.” He illustrates the point with an example. “Last November we had a short postal strike and to circumvent it, we established temporary collection points. Every day, literally tens of thousands of subscribers came to get their paper. The fact we managed to maintain reader relations clearly demonstrates the importance of HS in Finnish society.”
"HS is quite simply a way of life, a daily habit and an important part of our cultural heritage"
HS’ online readership even exceeds that of the printed edition. Putkiranta adds: “The average print reader spends of course far more time on the paper than online visitors.” Mobile devices are the main driver of the paper’s growth; in 2015 more readers accessed it on mobile devices than on desktop computers. Another 2015 milestone was the doubling of video viewing. And all the while, customer satisfaction keeps growing. Putkiranta stresses that HS will continue to invest in its digital service to improve the quality of the user experience.
Weekly digest: HS Viikko
In December 2015, HS launched a completely new product: a hybrid digital and print publication named HS Viikko, which is optimised for both media. Sanoma’s response to rising distribution costs, HS Viikko, gives subscribers in far-flung parts of Finland a weekly digest of HS on Friday through the post. “All I can say at this point is that the start of HS Viikko has been promising,” Putkiranta comments.
According to Sadeoja, Finland’s phenomenal newspaper consumption is second only to that of Japan. “Newspapers are traditionally big here. Our brands are respected and trusted, and that trust is making us very big on the web. Most traffic visits our site free of charge; we’re financed by advertising and business-to-business. Our paper’s nationwide audience appeals to advertisers.”
In 2015 IS started publishing IS Extra, a subscription platform boasting exclusive online and TV coverage of the Finnish football league. Sadeoja: “IS Extra is a great success. Both our audience and the football league are happy with it.” IS, he explains, is moving increasingly toward visual content, especially video clips. “During the record-hitting week of 2015 we had five million video starts."