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Study: Young Brits prefer online news

July 27, 2021

Young people are significantly more likely to keep up with news using the Internet, over TV and other sources, according to UK broadcast regulator Ofcom’s annual news consumption report.

Nine in 10 younger people aged 16-24 (89 per cent) follow news stories online, compared with under two-thirds (61 per cent) who get their news from TV. It’s a similar picture among people from a minority ethnic background with 85 per cent favouring Internet news over TV news (69 per cent).

Generally speaking, however, use of TV news held steady during the last year and, despite these exceptions, it remains the most popular news source among the general UK adult population (79 per cent). The data indicates however that use of radio, print newspapers and the internet for news all declined year on year -falling by six, five and three percentage points respectively.

The study, News Consumption in the UK 2020/21, looks at how adults and older children (aged 12-15) in the UK consume news across television, radio, print, social media, podcasts, other Internet sources and magazines.

Other findings from the research include:

  • After TV (79 per cent), the Internet is the next most popular platform for news (used by 73 per cent of people), followed by radio (46 per cent). Over a third of adults (32 per cent) get news from print newspapers. But, when combining traditional print with newspaper websites and apps, this increases to 49 per cent.
  • BBC One remains the most popular news source overall (62 per cent). This was followed by ITV (46 per cent) and Facebook (36 per cent) although both saw declines in use for news since 2020 (from 49 per cent and 40 per cent respectively). Several other news sources also saw similar declines year on year – Channel 4 (26 per cent to 24 per cent), BBC Radio 2 (16 per cent to 13 per cent) and BBC Radio 1 (13 per cent to 11 per cent).
  • When people were asked which of the main news sources is the most important to them, BBC One came out on top (19 per cent) although this decreased from 22 per cent of adults in 2020. The BBC website or app was selected as the next most valued news source – increasing in importance since 2020 (from 8 per cent to 11 per cent).
  • Half of adults use social media (49 per cent) and other non-social media websites and apps for news (49 per cent). Younger people aged 16-24 are much more likely to consider social media platforms as their most important sources of news (36 per cent compared with 14 per cent for the average UK population). However, generally speaking, social media performs least well on measures such as importance, trustworthiness, range of opinions and impartiality.
  • A fifth (19 per cent) of UK adults use news aggregators, and 25 per cent say they use search engines for news, a decline from 2020 (28 per cent).
  • Just under six in 10 12-15-year-olds (57 per cent) say they are interested in news. They remain particularly interested in news about music (53 per cent), followed by news about celebrities (45 per cent), the environment (44 per cent) and serious things happening in the UK (43 per cent).
  • Although BBC One and BBC Two remain the most-used (35 per cent) and most important news sources (14 per cent) among 12-15s, these channels have seen a significant reduction in use over the last year (down from 41 per cent). In contrast, Sky News (19 per cent to 24 per cent), TikTok (11 per cent to 22 per cent) and WhatsApp (16 per cent to 21 per cent) are all used to access news more often than in 2020.








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