Digital news as popular as newspapers

Accessing news on the web and mobile apps is now as popular as reading a newspaper, Ofcom research finds. Some 41 per cent of people say they now access news on websites and apps, up significantly from 32 per cent in 2013.

Four in ten people (40 per cent) 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 per cent) to catch-up on the news.

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

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

There has also been a fall in people saying that a TV channel is their most important source for news (from 62 per cent in 2013 to 54 per cent 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 per cent compared to 36 per cent). More younger adults also don’t watch any news on TV (44 per cent versus 25 per cent across all adults).

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 per cent versus 4 per cent) and twice as likely via a tablet (15 per cent versus 7 per cent).

This could explain why more 16-24s said they caught up on news to pass the time (17 per cent versus 9 per cent 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 per cent across all adults and just 3 per cent 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 per cent), across the UK (56 per cent) and in their local area (49 per cent). Those aged 55+ are more likely to give more reasons for following news, suggesting a stronger engagement.

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