Reports of the death of print have been greatly accelerated, judging by research from UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom.
The research has found that in the UK digital news, consumed via apps or websites, has only just reached parity with news consumed via ink and dead trees.
Yep those old media newspaper thingies are surprisingly sticky — and not just in the way their column inches adhere to one’s fingers.
Ofcom found that around 41% of people say they now access news on websites and apps — up significantly from around a third (32%) last year.
But despite digital news’ rising popularity, rates of newspaper usage are remaining steady overall — unchanged at four in 10 people (40%), year on year. However Ofcom’s report does note a decline in print readership “particular among the under-35s” over the past year.
Both newspapers and apps still massively trail the UK’s main source of news: the TV, although once you segment Brits by age then digital platforms come out as the primary news source for the younger age group (16 to 24).
Overall, Ofcom found that 75% of respondents identified the TV as their primary news source, down slightly from 78% in 2013. The research also notes a fall in people saying a particular TV channel is their most important source for news (down to 54% from 62% in 2013).
Ofcom says the rising popularity of digital news is being driven by increased mobile and tablet usage among younger Brits.
Some 60% of these younger Brits said they are consuming digital news in 2014, up from 44% last year. And around 45% of this age group said websites or apps are their most important sources for news, up from 30% in 2013.
The research also found that young Brits are 10x more likely than those aged 55 and over to access news on a mobile (40% vs just 4%), and twice as likely to access news via a tablet (15% vs 7%).
The converse is true when it comes to TV news — with older Brits consuming considerably more hours per year of TV news than younger Brits. Ofcom found that the over 55s watch an average of 196 hours of TV news each year vs just 27 hours for 16-24 year olds, who in turn watch 88 fewer hours of TV news than the average UK adult (115 hours a year).