“This year we have evidence of the growth of distributed (offsite) news consumption, a sharpening move to mobile and we can reveal the full extent of ad-blocking worldwide,” Reuters Institute research associate Nic Newman said, introducing the 2016 Digital News Report, which looks at 2021 respondents globally to uncover news consumption patterns.
“These three trends in combination are putting further severe pressure on the business models of both traditional publishers and new digital-born players – as well as changing the way in which news is packaged and distributed.”
“Across our 26 countries, we see a common picture of job losses, cost-cutting, and missed targets as falling print revenues combine with the brutal economics of digital in a perfect storm.
“Almost everywhere we see the further adoption of online platforms and devices for news – largely as a supplement to broadcast but often at the expense of print.”
The focus group research for this year’s Digital News Report shows that, as news now comes to people through social media feeds, there can be less need to go directly to a news website.
“The stories that come through are usually the breaking stories that I would otherwise have to go to NewYorkTimes.com. Now I don’t,” said one respondent in the 35-54-year-old bracket.
Within the EU (10 per cent) and the United States (14 per cent at least one in ten now say social media are their main source of news, with even higher figures in Australia (18 per cent and Greece (27 per cent).
A key related concern is the extent to which news brands are even noticed in distributed environments. This will be critical to whether publishers can capitalise on the reach and exposure that these platforms afford.
While globally the result was mixed, only around a third say they notice the brand in social networks (most or all of the time) in highly competitive English-speaking markets such as the UK, Australia, and Ireland.
So what does the future look like in terms of where we access news? Here’s our wrap up:
- 51 per cent say they use social media as a source of news each week, with around one in ten saying it’s their main source, Facebook leading the way for social media platforms.
- TV is still the favourite for oldies, however is still on the decline, while mobile usage for news is sharply up, reaching half of the global sample.
- Business problems for many publishers have worsened with the rise of ad-blocking, which is much higher amongst under-35s and people who use news the most. The vast majority of those who have ever downloaded a blocker are using them regularly, suggesting that once downloaded people rarely go back.
- Social media is also more relied on by younger generations and women, and for the first time, people aged 18-24 rated social media above TV for finding news.
- Only around eight per cent of smartphone users currently use an ad-blocker but around a third of respondents say they plan to install one on their mobile in the next year.
- Three-quarters of respondents (78%) say they still mostly rely on text, rejecting news outlets’ push for news via video. The reason being? People find reading news quicker and more convenient (41 per cent) and are pissed off by pre-roll advertisements (35 per cent).
- Respondents have strong concerns that with the growth of personalised news and more algorithmic selection of news, they’ll miss out on important information or challenging viewpoints. Having said that, young people seem more comfortable with algorithms than with editors.
- Media companies that have nailed their colours to a distributed future like BuzzFeed are gaining ground in terms of reach, but fear not old school publications – these types of sites are primarily used for secondary sources and softer news stories.