In a year marked by economic uncertainty, Mediahuis has shown resilience and posted a strong result. Partly thanks to the acquisition of the German Aachener Verlagsgesellschaft at the beginning of the year, consolidated turnover rose to €1.2 billion.
Subscription growth, which in recent years has been driven by a strong increase in digital subscriptions, came under pressure last year because of the difficult economic context. Nevertheless, Mediahuis managed to maintain the total number of subscribers of about 1.8 million. Turnover from newspaper sales also remained stable compared to the previous year.
On the advertising market, which seems to have fully recovered post-Covid in the various countries where Mediahuis has a presence, the group’s titles recorded a slight increase in turnover compared to the previous year. In the Belgian market, increased competition was felt as a result of further market concentration.
Sharply rising energy and paper costs and significant distribution problems in the Dutch and German market negatively affected the group’s final result. Nevertheless, Mediahuis managed to largely absorb the effects and the group achieved an operational result of €155.7 million. The net result amounted to €65.3 million.
Early in 2022, Mediahuis completed the acquisition of German Aachener Verlagsgesellschaft, making the group the main shareholder (70%) of Medienhaus Aachen, publisher of, among other titles, the Aachener Zeitung. With this takeover, Mediahuis entered the German market, a logical step that reinforced the group’s ambitions to further evolve into a leading European media player. The German operations made a healthy contribution to the consolidated turnover in the first year.
Gert Ysebaert, CEO Mediahuis group: “In a year marked by war, energy crisis and inflation, the Mediahuis news brands once again produced reliable and independent journalism and were a guide for our readers in uncertain times. As a group, we showed that we are resilient. The digital transition continues, although at a slower pace than in the Covid years. Our strong journalism and digital news experience are making a difference every day and enabling us to absorb the structural decline in print. A large group of readers remain loyal to the printed newspaper. However, ensuring continuity of delivery is becoming increasingly challenging. Moreover, the media world is transforming at an unprecedented speed, driven by technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, as well as changing consumer behaviour. All this means that, more than ever, we need to anticipate an even more radical digital shift.”
Digital transition continues: more than 4 in 10 subscribers read digitally
By the end of 2022, the various Mediahuis titles accounted for a total of some 1.8 million subscribers in print and digital. The number of digital subscribers grew by 13% compared to the previous year, while the decline in print subscribers continued unabated with a fall of 11%.
More than 4 in 10 Mediahuis subscribers read digital editions or a combination of print and digital. In Belgium, the share of digital subscriptions is 34%, while in the Netherlands almost half of all subscribers (47%) choose a package with a digital component. The leader here is NRC, with 65% digital subscribers. In Luxembourg and Germany, the pace of the digital transition is slightly slower and the share of digital subscriptions is 10% and 14% respectively. In Ireland, where Mediahuis only introduced a digital subscription model in 2020, the growth in digital subscribers continues with an increase of 32% compared to the previous year.
Audio journalism is also continuing its rise across markets. Mediahuis saw the number of podcast episodes listened to increase by more than half (55%). The podcasts of all Mediahuis news brands combined had more than 77.6 million listens in 2022.
Nostalgie further embedded in radio landscape
In Belgium, Nostalgie retains its licence as a national radio station, allowing the music station to continue to make radio over an FM frequency in the coming years. A few days ago, Mediahuis announced its ambition to sell 20% of its shares in Vlaanderen Eén, the company that runs Nostalgie in Flanders, to Telenet Group, parent company of Play Media, the media group behind the Play television channels.
Every day in Flanders, Nostalgie reaches some 363,000 listeners, good for a 6% market share. In French-speaking Belgium, Nostalgie reaches 530,000 listeners every day. This results in a 16% market share, making Nostalgie the undisputed number 1 radio station there.
Since August, Nostalgie can also be listened to in the Netherlands via DAB+, online and via the Nostalgie app. This makes it Mediahuis’ second radio station in the Netherlands alongside Sublime, which has the FM radio frequency.
Investments aimed at further diversification
Mediahuis also focused last year on strengthening its position in digital marketplaces and growing its venture capital arm. With the acquisition of Carzone.ie, Ireland’s leading site for buying and selling new and used cars, Mediahuis Marketplaces strengthens its position in the Irish digital car market. With the acquisition of Ireland’s Switcher.ie, the group invested into the online comparison market. The investment in Finnish Skenariolabs, which predicts the future value and sustainability of real estate based on data and AI, marks Mediahuis’ entry into the property technology market.
Mediahuis Ventures strengthened its position in the education technology market in 2022 with investments in remote-first university Tomorrow’s Education and online textbook subscription service Perlego. The capital injection into Berlin-based hiring intelligence platform HiPeople in autumn 2022 was Mediahuis Ventures’ first investment in the HR technology market.
Key financial figures
Once again, Mediahuis’ revenue growth comes from its continued geographical expansion. With the acquisition of Medienhaus Aachen and the Carzone and Switcher marketplaces, turnover surpassed €1.2 billion. But the operating result was also influenced by a strong headwind from the historically high paper price and high inflation. Paper costs alone increased by more than €30 million as a result, and the impact of rising costs was felt in several business areas. However, thanks to consistent hedging of energy prices, their volatility had only a limited impact. The scale of the group allowed Mediahuis to further optimise various business processes and reduce printing capacity by closing the printing plants in Luxembourg (summer 2022) and Ireland (early 2023). Despite the impact of inflation, Mediahuis thus managed to keep its fixed costs tightly under control. As a result, the operating result fell only slightly below last year’s. The group’s net result ended lower than in 2021, when it was positively impacted by the sale of the Keesing stake. Mediahuis maintains its solid financial situation, with a limited net debt as a result of the various acquisitions made in 2022.
Kristiaan De Beukelaer, CFO Mediahuis group: “In a year of significant headwinds, Mediahuis provided proof not only that its expansion strategy delivered growth in market share and turnover, but that we succeeded in making maximum and efficient use of the group’s scale and safeguarded our profitability from erosion. Mediahuis has become a solid and future-proof house for all its brands and operations.”
|(in millions of euro)||2022||2021||change|
|Net result (group share)||65.3||117.3||-52.8|
|Net recurring result||(2)||115.7||125.7||-10.0|
(1) EBIT excluding the amortisation of acquisition-goodwill and non-recurrent results.
(2) Operating result plus financial result (including result of participating interests in equity method), after deduction of corporate taxes.
(3) Cash and cash equivalents less bank liabilities, excluding operating lease obligations denominated under IFRS16 as debt.