Family-owned Bonnier News organises for continued digital growth

By Dawn McMullan


Dallas, Texas, United States


Lotta Edling is proud of her company’s journalistic excellence, as well as its growth in reach and digital subscription numbers for its media outlets. As editorial director of development for Sweden-based, family-owned Bonnier News, Edling spends much of her energy focused on digital subscription growth and on the importance of journalism in the face of issues such as climate change and global sustainability. 

Bonnier is an immigration success story, beginning in 1804 when Gerhard Bonnier left Dresden for Copenhagen and then Sweden. He started modestly with a bookstall, but by 1837 his son had become a book publisher with a “stable of important writers.” If there is a better news brand start-up story, I haven’t heard it. 

That enterprise that continues to grow. Bonnier companies span a wide range of businesses, from a book publisher to its media brands to property development and even a private yarn brand. 

Though both journalism and book publishing remain central, Bonnier’s digital sales have surpassed US$10.5 million, Dagens Nyheter has more than 120,000 digital subscribers, and on-demand service TV4Play had more than 4 million registered users.

Bonnier is implementing structural changes this year and will become Bonnier Holding, which represents the Bonnier family ownership with 10 wholly owned companies that will replace its subsidiaries. The corporate group includes both media companies from the Nordic region, and Bonnier Fastigheter, which is the owner/manager/developer of commercial real estate, primarily in Stockholm. The holding company has operations in 14 countries.

Some holdings are going, some are coming: It is selling Bonnier Broadcasting, has acquired a majority stake in Danish e-learning company Clio Online, and has, in alliance with Norwegian Amedia, acquired MittMedia and its 28 newspapers.

We talked with Edling, a new member of INMA’s international board of directors, who obviously is passionate about the opportunities for value, upselling, new products, and revenue growth this opens up for the company.

Bonnier News has seen an increase in audiences who are willing to pay for digital subscriptions and is working to build on that momentum with new products.
Bonnier News has seen an increase in audiences who are willing to pay for digital subscriptions and is working to build on that momentum with new products.

INMA: What do you see as the big opportunities in 2019 and how are you taking advantage of them?

Edling: In the Nordic region we have for some years seen a very positive trend in digital subscriptions. (This is, of course, something that INMA members are fully aware of, given that the latest Media Subscriptions Week in March even was located in Stockholm and Norway this year.)

We still see an increase in willingness to pay for digital content and the opportunity we now have, given all the billing relationships we gather, is extremely exciting. How can we add more value, new products, relevant upsell, and raise the average revenue per user based on this data?

INMA: What success within your company are you most proud of at this moment?

Edling: Award winning, important, and engaging journalism in several of our titles, but mainly Expressen and Dagens Nyheter — both awarded prestigious national and international prizes this year.

From our perspective, it is not a coincidence that these titles also make us extremely proud when it comes to success in numbers. Dagens Nyheter is growing rapidly in digital subscriptions and we see a likewise fantastic growth — but in reach — at Expressen and Expressen TV, now really closing in on Aftonbladet to be the largest digital news provider in Sweden.

INMA: What is Bonnier’s biggest idea/initiative for 2019?

Edling: The structure of Bonnier is going through some changes this year:

  • Instead of being organised in Bonnier AB with subsidiaries, we will have Bonnier Group as a holding company (representing the Bonnier Family ownership) and the different branches as independent and wholly owned companies.
  • We are waiting for the authorities’ approval to sell Bonnier Broadcasting, including the largest commercial TV-channel TV4, to Telia.
  • At Bonnier News — gathering some of Sweden’s strongest media brands such as Expressen, Dagens Nyheter, and Dagens Industri [where she was editor-in-chief for three years] — growth is a strategic priority.
The structure of Bonnier Group has gone through recent changes.
The structure of Bonnier Group has gone through recent changes.

In February this year we, together with Norweigan Amedia, aquired MittMedia, with 28 local newspapers in mid-Sweden. MittMedia had for some time struggled with profitability problems and large losses. We are very proud of this deal and have a firm belief that we will turn the business around and improve the journalism.

INMA: What keeps you up at night?

Edling: Thinking of the challenges we all face when it comes to climate and sustainability. It should keep every publisher and journalist awake. Once in a while we can use our journalism and voices to make a true impact on these issues. 

About Dawn McMullan

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