Digital Platforms Grow News Consumption

September 14, 2010

Americans are spending more time with the news today than in 2000 due to the impact of new digital platforms, according to data from the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press.

Digital Growth Increases News Time
Digital platforms are playing a larger role in news consumption, and they seem to be more than making up for modest declines in the audience for traditional platforms. As a result, the average time Americans spend with the news on a given day, 70 minutes, is as high as it was in the mid-1990s, when audiences for traditional news sources were much larger.

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The number of minutes spent with news online, virtually nil in the mid-90s, rose to an average of 13 in 2010. This compensated for mild decreases since the mid-90s in the average number of minutes spent with news on TV and the radio, as well as in newspapers. The average combined time spent with these three traditional formats, 57, is virtually unchanged from 2000 to 2010.

1/3 of Public Got Online News Yesterday
Roughly a third (34%) of the public say they went online for news yesterday; on par with radio, and slightly higher than daily newspapers. And when cell phones, email, social networks and podcasts are added in, 44% of Americans say they got news through one or more internet or mobile digital source yesterday.

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However, instead of replacing traditional news platforms, Americans are increasingly integrating new technologies into their news consumption habits. More than a third (36%) of Americans say they got news from both digital and traditional sources yesterday, just shy of the number who relied solely on traditional sources (39%). Only 9% of Americans got news through the internet and mobile technology without also using traditional sources.

Other Findings

  • While 26% of all Americans say they read a print newspaper yesterday, that figure falls to just 8% among adults younger than 30.
  • Far more men (50%) than women (39%) get news on digital platforms, such as the internet and mobile technology, on any given day. Men are more likely to get news by cell phone, email, RSS feeds or podcasts than are women. But men and women are equally likely to get news through Twitter or social networking sites.
  • More people say they mostly get news “from time to time” rather than at “regular times.” The percentage of so-called news grazers has increased nine points (from 48% to 57%) since 2006.
  • Search engines are playing a substantially larger role in people’s news gathering habits ; 33% regularly use search engines to get news on topics of interest, up from 19% in 2008.
  • About three in 10 adults (31%) access the internet via cell phone, but just 8% get news there regularly.
  • Most Facebook and Twitter users say they hardly ever or never get news there.
  • One in four adults (25%) who have Tivos or DVRs say they program them to record news programs.

Fox Tops News Sites
FoxNews.com leads all news and information sites in customer satisfaction, according to analysis of the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) by ForeSee Results.

FoxNews.com earned the highest ACSI score, 82, of all news and information sites rated by ACSI, in its first year of being included. This score substantially beat both the aggregate score for the news and information category (74) as well as the score of runner up USAToday.com (77).

About the Data: The biennial news consumption survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press was conducted June 8-28 on cell phones and landlines among 3,006 adults.

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