Fewer people in Belgium are paying for online news, according to the latest data from YouGov and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Just one-tenth (10.9%) of internet users said they have paid for or accessed paid online news content in the last year.

While this share rose from 12.2% in 2016 to 14.1% in 2018, it has recorded the first decline this year. This places Belgium below the Europe average of 11.5%.

This puts more pressure on Belgian publishers, as advertising revenue has continued to decline. Newspaper and magazines accounted for one-third (32.6%) of all spend in 2010, a share expected to drop to one-tenth (10.4%) next year. Advertising spend equalled €374.8m last year, a year-on-year decrease of 27.0%. Of the 18 product verticals tracked by WARC, just one (politics) increased its spend on newspaper and magazine advertising between 2013 and 2018.

Among those who pay for or access paid online news content, three-quarters are making an ongoing purchase (75.8%). Continual subscription or membership payments are most popular at 31.9%, followed by as part of a print-digital bundle (29.6%).

This follows a wider trend of publishers emphasising subscriptions and digital paywalls in response to a steep decline in print revenue.