By buying “Politico”, Axel Springer is betting on the revival of digital journalism

Let it not be said that you cannot make money with journalism in the digital age. The German media group Axel Springer, publisher of the tabloid Bild and the conservative daily Die welt, announced, Thursday, August 26, the takeover of the American political information site Politico for a record sum, the exact amount of which has not been made public.

The German group, which has not been listed on the stock market since 2019, simply clarified that it was “The biggest acquisition in its history”, which means that the amount of the transaction exceeds 630 million euros, which is the amount spent in 2019 for the takeover of the French property listings site

Read our report from 2014: “Politico”: behind the scenes of an avant-garde press

This is no surprise, as the German group has long been interested in Politico, founded in Washington in 2007. In 2014, he co-founded the European counterpart of the site (Politico Europe), in a joint venture in which he held 50% of the shares. With this transaction, he is now the sole owner of the media. For Mathias Döpfner, boss of Axel Springer, the importance of the investment is perfectly justified. “We are convinced that we have acquired Politico for a very attractive price ”, he told the Handelsblatt business daily on Thursday.

Diversified economic model

The model Politico has indeed proven its worth, both editorial and economically. In Washington as in Brussels, the title is considered one of the most influential sources of information in political circles. Going against the trend of falling costs and making journalists more precarious, Politico defends high-quality, high-precision journalism, supported by a well-rounded editorial staff (500 editors in total) and a diversified business model, based on advertising and premium subscriptions.

“Readers are prepared to spend money on quality journalism,” observes Mathias Döpfner, boss of the Axel Springer group.

According to the Axel Springer group, 60% of the revenues of Politico Europe came in 2020 from its Politico Pro offer, which disseminates targeted information to professionals, with a subscription at variable cost according to customer needs, from 10,000 euros per year.

Politico is highly profitable, with a margin of 30%, assures the Handelsblatt Mathias Döpfner, who believes in a turning point in the media sector. In recent years, the basics of digital journalism have improved dramatically. The intellectual property legal situation and the realization by US platforms that they cannot use media content without remuneration has had a ripple effect. Most importantly, readers are willing to spend the money on quality journalism. “

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