Online news is now as big as print, says Ofcom

Digital news consumption via apps and websites has overtaken print for the first time

UK people are increasingly choosing to find news online, helping digital consumption to top newspaper readership for the first time.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom said 41 percent of people access the news through apps or websites [PDF], and that 40 percent get their information by paper. Digital consumption has overtaken radio as well, it said. However, radio news also grew in popularity, from 35 to 36 percent of people turning to the radio for the latest updates.

Young people have pushed digital forwards, according to the study, and 16- to 24-year-olds are credited with driving its adoption. Just less than two thirds of the sector take their news digitally; this time last year it was just 44 percent.

Television news consumption is the most popular source, with 75 percent of people switching on the TV as a source of news. In 2013, however, this number was 78 percent.

Forty one percent of the 16- to 24-year-olds surveyed do not watch any television news, while it remains popular with the over 55 group at 90 percent.

News aggregators have lost some readership, according to Ofcom, but the industry has lost some significant ones in this timeframe, for example Google Reader, which closed down in 2013. Aggregator use has fallen from 25 percent last year to 15 percent in 2014.

The number of people reading news stories online has increased, but the number of reports read on blogs and social media sites has declined.

Some of the findings are a reflection of typical British behaviour. For example Ofcom said that the most ‘interesting’ news for both 16- to 24-year-olds and over 55s is weather reports, at 42 percent and 54 percent respectively.

Almost three out of every five news consumers seek news updates in order to find out “what’s going on in the world”, with wanting to know about the UK coming as the second most important reason to read or watch the news.

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