Pew Report: News Consumption Grows Across Multiple Screens
March 21, 2012

Pew Report: News Consumption Grows Across Multiple Screens

Reports that the internet killed news media are highly overrated. The State of the News Media 2012 report from Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that people access news on their phones, tablets, and are likely to also take a peek at current events on their computers.

While news consumption isn't under threat, traditional news media outlets are losing ground to other companies that dominate in social media, web services and even hardware. The web, however, emerges as the main outlet for audience growth.

Online, which encompasses digital formats including web and mobile such as smartphones and tablets, experienced 17.2 percent audience growth from 2010 to 2011. Network TV experienced 4.5 percent audience growth; local TV, audio and cable TV each experienced one percent growth. Magazines receded half a percent and newspapers declined 4 percent in terms of audience growth over the same period.

Over 75 percent of the U.S. adult population owns a laptop or desktop computer, but mobile is a big overlap on this figure. Nearly half, 44 percent, own a smartphone and 18 percent of the population owns a tablet. That latter figure sat at 11 percent when the study was released a year ago.

Of all smartphone owners, 51 percent use the device to get news; and 56 percent of tablet owners access news on their devices. Of the total adult population in the U.S., 23 percent get news on multiple digital devices.

Dollars follow eyes. Online (23 percent); cable TV (9 percent); and audio (1 percent) were the only sectors to see increases in revenue. Network TV (-3.7 percent); magazines (-5.6 percent); local TV (-6.7 percent) and newspapers (-7.3 percent) each saw a decrease in revenues over the past year.

Online advertising increased 23 percent in 2011, over the previous year. Search accounts for a the majority of all online advertising, though display advertising grew in the past year.

The report suggests that mobile is expanding digital news offerings for personal consumption. "As sales of e-readers and tablet computers grow, Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism's early research has found consumers are reading more immersively on these devices than on earlier technology," the report states.

PEJ expects that more news outlets will move to digital subscriptions in the coming year. Digital subscription models will develop for as many as 150 publications, with various models including metered models that charge based on the number of news stories accessed.