Rapid Growth in Both Mobile and Tablet Use for News
News is becoming more mobile, more social, and more real-time. This year’s survey by Reuters reveals continuing shifts in how, when, and where people access the news, with digital patterns becoming more entrenched– particularly amongst the younger half of the population. Audiences increasingly want news on any device, in any format, and at any time of day.
Tablet usage has doubled in the 10 months since the last survey Reuters conducted that covered a myriad of countries on news habits and consumption. Weekly news use has risen from 8% to 16% in the United Kingdom and 13% to 25% in Denmark. All across the board, readers are choosing tablets for the social media and interactive elements that digital brands are starting to provide.
Mobile usage is also up substantially. In many countries smartphone users are now in the majority and most of them use these devices to access news every week. Denmark leads the way with 43% weekly news usage from a smartphone. Germany lags with 22%.
One of the most emerging trends in digital newspapers is the fact the average customer is reading on more than one device. One-third of readers now gets news on at least two devices and 9% use more than three.
Some devices are used more heavily for news than others. 85% of computer users say they access news on that device each week, compared with 63% of smartphone users, 60% of tablet users, 54% of smart TV users, and only 17% for the e-reader.
So exactly what devices are customers employing to read digital newspapers the most? In Denmark, Japan, the US (and the UK) there is a relatively equal split between Apple iPhones and other devices (mostly Android). Elsewhere, other operating systems such as Android and Blackberry tend to dominate. Apple has only a quarter of the market in Germany (26%) and Spain (25%).
But multi-platform is not just about digital news. Across all of our countries, an average of 49% of those who access news on a tablet say they also read a printed newspaper at least once each week; 81% also watch TV news and we see similar patterns with smartphone users.
Digital Newspaper subscribers are on the rise. Newspaper subscriptions and purchases remains high in most countries. It is currently strongest in Japan (68%), Italy (59%), and Germany (56%) and lowest in France (39%) and the US (42%).
Although, some markets perform better with digital newspapers, the majority of customers are unwilling to pay the high-costs involved in taking out a dedicated subscription. 50% of the global sample said they had bought a printed newspaper in the last week, only 5% said they had paid for digital news in the same time period. This is partly because the majority of online newspapers still do not charge for news – although that is changing rapidly with the erection of paywalls, combined subscriptions, and app-based purchases.
The overwhelming message in this year’s survey is that audiences increasingly expect news that they can access anytime, anywhere. But that doesn’t mean they only want online news. Audiences may be embracing news on tablets and smartphones but they still want to catch up with broadcast news and they enjoy taking time with the printed page. It’s a multi-platform world and becoming more so.
Many countries are still abiding by old habits and traditions that are hard to break. Many countries like Germany and France that are slow to change and many older readers within all countries are refusing to join in the digital and multi-platform news revolution altogether. The big challenge of digital newspapers is to appeal to their older demographic of users and promote ease of use.
Nic Newman of Reuters mentioned “Clearly news brands still matter but a strong name and long heritage is no longer enough. Our data show that there still is a yearning – in an ocean of content – for trusted news across a range of subject areas, but newer brands like Yahoo and the Huffington Post are also proving they can fill that role alongside a raft of specialist providers, blogs, and social media too. Against this background, it is not surprising to see more and more anguished debates around editorial and distribution strategies. Most news organizations are reconfiguring their workflows for the multi-platform age – trying to drive more output to more platforms with the same number (or fewer) journalists. Finding new audiences and revenues is proving more challenging. Some news organizations are looking to exploit niches, others are pushing for scale and paywalls are going up around the world. As ever, success will depend on a combination of clear strategies and a strong understanding of changing audience behaviors. In that respect, we hope this annual survey provides useful and insightful data to help inform the challenges to come.”