Digital news as popular as newspapers for first time

25 June 2014

  • Consuming news on websites or apps is now as popular as reading newspapers
  • TV remains the most popular way to consume news

Accessing news on the web and mobile apps is now as popular as reading a newspaper, new Ofcom research finds.

Some 41% of people say they now access news on websites and apps, up significantly from 32% in 2013.

Four in ten people (40%) say that they read newspapers to follow the news, which is unchanged year on year, according to Ofcom’s News Consumption in the UK report.

At the same time, using websites or apps has overtaken the radio (36%) to catch-up on the news (see chart below).

Younger people (16-24) are driving the surge in consuming news on the internet or apps, with 60% doing so in 2014, up from 44% last year. Some 45% of 16-24s said that websites or apps were their most important sources for news, up by a half over the year (30% in 2013).

TV news still most popular

TV remains the most popular way to consume news with 75% tuning in during 2014, compared to 78% in 2013.

There has also been a fall in people saying that a TV channel is their most important source for news (from 62% in 2013 to 54% in 2014).

The amount of news watched on TV also varies with age. The over 55s watch an average of 196 hours of TV news each year. This compares to 27 hours for 16-24 year olds, who watch 88 fewer hours of TV news than the average UK adult (115 hours a year).

Those aged over 55 are nearly twice as likely to name a TV channel as their most important source of news, compared to the 16-to-24s (65% compared to 36%). More younger adults also don’t watch any news on TV (44% versus 25% across all adults).

Younger people more mobile for news

The rise in digital news is driven by increased mobile and tablet use among younger people (16-24). They are ten times more likely than those aged 55 and over to access news on a mobile (40% versus 4%) and twice as likely via a tablet (15% versus 7%).

This could explain why more 16-24s said they caught up on news to pass the time (17% versus 9% for over 55s) as mobiles and tablets allow them to surf the web and apps on the move.

Despite younger people having easier access to news on apps and the web, one in 10 people aged 16-24 say they don’t follow the news. This compares to 5% across all adults and just 3% for the over 55s.

The top three reasons UK adults give for following the news is to know what’s going on in the world (58%), across the UK (56%) and in their local area (49%). Those aged 55+ are more likely to give more reasons for following news, suggesting a stronger engagement.

Platforms used for news consumption by UK adults nowadays

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ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. An infographic highlighting Ofcom’s research into news consumption is published on the Ofcom website.
  2. The research conducted includes an omnibus survey of 2,731 people across the UK commissioned by Ofcom (conducted by Kantar Media) in March/April 2014. Other data used includes Ofcom local media omnibus (Ipsos Mori); metrics on television viewing from BARB; and newspaper readership figures from the National Readership Survey.