As we wrote on last week, the digital music sales have surpassed record sales in Finland. What about films and books?

“We don’t compete with Netflix”

The numbers of users for movie streaming services have increased in Finland over recent years. Netflix currently has almost 400 000 paying viewers, which is about 12 per cent of the total TV audience. Also, HBO Nordic has arrived in Finland, but there no available statics on Finnish viewers.

The Finnish television channels have long had their own streaming web services that offer most programs for free (for Finnish viewers at least). Around 30-40 million videos are watched every month via these services (Yle Areena, Ruutu, Katsomo, etc.) according to Finnpanel. The YLE Areena, national broadcasting company’s streaming service is still the clear market leader.

The pay-per-view channels of commercial television channels are, however, also a major competitor for the online streaming services like Netflix. Nevertheless, the commercial channels still claim they do not consider Netflix as their direct competitor, albeit they have been taken by surprise of the Netflix’s rapid popularity. The pay-per-views, such as Nelonen’s Pro 1 and 2 and MTV’s Max Sport 1 and 2, are focusing on sporting events as their lifeline.

Some cultural trends create and supported by streaming services have found their ways on the service offering of television channels. The phenomenon of binge viewing, watching complete seasons of television series on one session, is one of these. For this reason commercial channels have also introduced the ability to watch complete seasons in their streaming services.

Digital didn’t destroy long-form

The publishing industry has been one of the last industries to be revolutionized by digital technologies. The repeated rumors of the death of the publishing industry were proven premature, and today new digital forms of publishing are thriving and clearly here to stay.

The industry has been frantically looking for new revenue models, and there are some quite interesting international examples of these. In Brazil, the digital self-publishing platform, Clube de Autores, is already publishing 10 per cent of all the books in the country. In China, the social reading service Douban Read is gaining new users as we speak, and the application is currently used by around 4 million people.

Changes in reading factors have been affected by two factors in recent years. The first factor are the new reading devices such as tablets and e-readers that make it possible to acquire almost any book or paper  within a blink of an eye. Another factor has been the increased appreciation of long-form digital texts. Contrary to what was once thought, digital devices have not destroyed people’s ability to concentrate, but there are readers interested on in-depth content also in the world of digital devices.

Straight from writer to reader

In the same way as in other fields, book publishing industry and journalism have also been affected by the removal of intermediaries between creators and receivers of information. A good example of this is the Finnish web publisher of investigative journalism, longplay.fi, which sells in-depth articles, or “singles”, written by professional journalist straight to readers in digital form.

Yet, it’s interesting to note that the online sale of books in Finland has almost grinded to a halt. According to Publisher Association’s annual statistics online publications, e-fiction and other electronic books were sold in Finland for 17, 7 million euros last year. The sale of e-books increased only 1.7 per cent during last year when in the previous years the growth has been between 8 to 29 per cent.

The low popularity of commercial e-books in Finland might be caused by the perception of high prices. International places, such as Amazon, offer almost limitless amount digital content with a low cost.

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