Brits using news websites and apps now outnumber those reading printed newspapers, but TV news remains the most popular news source, according to communications watchdog Ofcom.
Ofcom’s annual News Consumption study indicates 41% of the population use the net to keep up-to-date with current affairs, while 40% read a paper. TV remains the most popular source with 75% of all Brits accessing news this way.
View this infographic showing the key highlights below:
Web ‘fastest growing medium’
While the net cannot yet claim the top spot, the study did suggest it was the fastest-growing medium.
Radio was the only other area that had an increase over the past year.
Ofcom suggested 36% of people in the UK tuned in to radio news, a modest rise from 35% in 2013. By contrast, the net leapt ahead from 32% to today’s 41% figure.
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.
Other studies- 7% paying for news
Recent figures by the National Readership Survey suggest the Sun newspaper, for example, shed one million readers over the past year, taking its current tally to about six million. The Sun’s decision to put its online version behind a paywall has also caused its net readership to fall, bucking the wider trend.
Another study, published this month, by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism indicated that just 7% of those polled in the UK said they had paid for news in the past year.
However, it added that “mainstream” news brands still had huge appeal online for the audience, with the Daily Mail, BBC, Sky News, Guardian, Telegraph and the “local newspaper” category all appearing in their top 10 list of most used internet-based sources.