Kam­pes, C. F., & Bren­tel, I. (2020). The Ger­man online media mar­ket: Online-born infor­ma­ti­on offe­rings and their audi­en­ces – A shift towards digi­tal ine­qua­li­ties? World of Media. Jour­nal of Rus­si­an Media and Jour­na­lism Stu­dies, 1(4), S. 5–34. 10.30547/worldofmedia.4.2020.1

Media mar­ket and media-rela­ted ine­qua­li­ties in socie­ty have been inten­si­ve­ly dis­cus­sed in aca­de­mia. Yet it is unclear if the online media mar­ket envi­ron­ment repro­du­ces exis­ting ine­qua­li­ties, smoot­hens them or even crea­tes new ones among media offe­rings and users, poten­ti­al­ly rein­for­cing a social divi­de. In this stu­dy, we test to which extent ine­qua­li­ties found are tru­ly digi­tal-indu­ced or repro­du­ced from off­line con­text using the Ger­man Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Inter­me­diaP­lus 2014–2016 data­set and descrip­ti­ve sta­tis­tics. Based on an inte­gra­ti­ve ana­ly­sis we com­bi­ne the per­spec­ti­ves of Ger­man media offe­rings (sup­ply side) and media audi­en­ces (demand side). We rely on the com­pa­ri­son of the gen­re port­fo­li­os of off­line-ori­gi­na­ted and online-born media offe­rings to eva­lua­te ine­qua­li­ties in the Ger­man online media mar­ket, based on past rese­arch, assuming that off­line-ori­gi­na­ted media pro­vi­ders pri­ma­ri­ly repli­ca­te their stra­te­gic pro­duct port­fo­lio from the off­line media mar­ket to the online media mar­ket. Using the media pro­vi­ders’ ori­gin, we iden­ti­fy a typo­lo­gy of off­line-ori­gi­na­ted and online-born media offe­rings. For ine­qua­li­ties in media use and poten­ti­al­ly resul­ting social divi­des we refer to rese­arch on the know­ledge gap hypo­the­sis and digi­tal divi­de stu­dies. For 2016, we found Ger­man online-born media offe­rings having a the­ma­ti­cal­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry, enter­tain­ment-focu­sed pro­duct port­fo­lio that balan­ces exis­ting off­line-ori­gi­na­ted ine­qua­li­ties. Howe­ver, it pro­vo­kes a ‘silent’ de-pola­riz­a­ti­on, with poli­ti­cal offe­rings almost exclu­si­ve­ly off­line-ori­gi­na­ted evol­ving into a niche mar­ket on the sup­ply side. On the demand side, we found stron­ger ine­qua­li­ties in the use of off­line-ori­gi­na­ted online media offe­rings by gen­der, edu­ca­ti­on and socio-eco­no­mic sta­tus. The­se main­ly mir­ror the ine­qua­li­ties known from the off­line con­text. For age, we found uni­que­ly digi­tal ine­qua­li­ties in online media use.