In a bid to increase the diversity of publishers we are looking at, we are expanding the top publishers lists that we publish beyond just the English-speaking world. This particular article spotlights the top German publishers, but we will also be looking at Spain, Italy, and others in this series. 

This article will examine the engagements to content from Germany in the last year, looking at broad engagement trends, top publishers, and top articles, before highlighting some of the successes of certain publishers.

Engagement to German publishers over time 

Engagement to German content has traditionally been much lower than we have seen in other countries, but relative to itself, engagement has increased this year. The graph below shows weekly engagement numbers to German content from 05/20/19 to 05/17/20.

Line graph showing engagement to German content over time

German media began to see engagement rise at the beginning of 2020, rising higher than it had been in 2019 on a week-to-week basis. It only continued from there as the coronavirus pandemic became more and more of a news item. Let’s look at which publishers specifically drove the most engagements.

Top German publishers

In terms of the top publishers, Bild was ahead of the rest with some 75 million engagements.

Histogram showing the most engaged German websites of the last year

Coming in in second was Focus, with 60 million engagements.  These two were fairly well ahead of the rest, with Welt, Der Spiegel, and RTL some way behind on around 30 million engagements each. 

But what did the top articles in Germany for the last year look like? 

Top German articles 

As far as the top articles went, no German article broke more than a million engagements in the last year. 

Chart showing the most engaged German articles, ranked by engagement

Der Postillon, a satire site, had the most engaged article, and indeed three of the top four overall. Their top article played on the lack of toilet paper thanks to panic buying, and proposed the 10 best recipes for pasta with toilet paper. The other articles for the publisher pointed out the fact that applause for nurses is no substitute for money for them, and speculated about whether Trump had been bred in a Chinese lab to harm the United States.

The only article to break Der Postillon’s monopoly was from Berliner Zeitung, taking a pessimistic look at the future society created by the coronavirus and the ensuing lockdown.

Spotlight of German publishers 

Beyond the top overall, we also wanted to highlight the top articles for some of the top publishers, to see what those who were most consistent were seeing success with, as opposed to individual viral articles. For this, we are going to look at Bild, Focus, and Welt. 


Bild was the biggest publisher in Germany in the last year, and their top ten articles all saw more than 100k engagements.

Chart showing the most engaged articles in Bild in the last year, ranked by engagement

Their top article received 259k engagements, and dates from November of last year. It was about the potential unforeseen consequences of electric cars, and contained a video of people in Chile running out of water, and blaming it on electric cars. 

Only one of the top three was about coronavirus, and it was about the heroic feats of those working on the frontlines in supermarkets, which saw 213k engagements. The third was about the death of TV star Ingo Kantorek in a car crash last August. 


Focus, meanwhile, saw more engagement with each of their top two articles than any of Bild’s articles.

Chart showing the top articles in Focus in the last year, ranked by engagement

The top article was about the fact that, despite having permission to do so, retailers Aldi and Rewe would not be opening their stores on Sundays, citing already stretched workers, and best practices for avoiding spreading the coronavirus. This was the only article from any of the top three publications to garner more than 300k engagements. 

The second most engaged article came from July of 2019, and was reporting of tributes being paid to the mother of an eight-year-old who died after being pushed in front of a train in Frankfurt. A live blog of coronavirus updates on March 19th was the third most engaged piece of the period, with the Prime Minister saying that lockdowns might be necessary. 


Welt had lower engagement on its top articles, with its most engaged article hitting 174k engagements. This was a piece of reporting about the attempts of President Trump to lure German vaccine makers to America, which caused consternation in Germany.

Chart showing the most engaged articles in Welt in the past year, ranked by engagement

The second most engaged article came out of Hamburg, where the medical examiner claimed that nobody had died of COVID-19 without some form of comorbidity at the time. This article drove almost 138k engagements. In third was an article that had nothing to do with coronavirus. It claimed that a majority of Germans would be open to reopening borders between Greece and Turkey, as long as refugees and migrants were evenly distributed between EU countries. 

Nine of the top ten stories were written in 2020, with the only one from 2019 a satirical one at the expense of the German rail system, joking that Greta Thunberg was now in favor of air travel having had to endure a trip on the Deutsche Bahn.

If you’d like to build a list like this for yourself, check out the NewsWhip product suite.

Benedict Nicholson

Benedict Nicholson is the Managing Editor at NewsWhip. An Englishman in New York, he is interested in the intersection of PR, brands, and journalism, and the trends and innovation around that.

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