Even though newspaper circulations have been falling and news are consumed more via smartphones, readers still spend much more time with newspapers’ print versions than with their websites and apps, a study finds.
Neil Thurman of LMU Munich and City, University of London, and Richard Fletcher of the University of Oxford, compared time spent with UK newspapers in 1999/2000 and 2016. They studied eight UK newspaper brands (The Mail, Mirror, The Sun, Star, Standard, The Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Times) by their British print and online audiences using data from the National Readership Survey and comScore.
Overall, there has been a 40% drop in time spent with newspapers, from 407 billion to 245 billion minutes. The decrease is bigger with younger (18–34 year old) and middle-aged readers (35–54) than older audiences.
Most time is still spent on print editions. For example, young readers spend nearly twice as much time (21,7 billion minutes) with print versions than with websites and apps (11,9 billion minutes). They spent an average of 23 minutes reading each weekday issue. Time spent on the same newspapers’ website and apps was on average less than one minute per day.
Authors found variations among news brands. The total time spent with The Guardian and the London Evening Standard had actually increased since 2000. The Guardian has been able to create successful online editions, while London Evening Standard boosted their readership in 2009 by becoming a freesheet, the researchers explain.
Differences in editorial and distribution strategies, as well as trends in public interest in political news can have major effects in time spent with the news, the authors conclude.
The article “Has Digital Distribution Rejuvenated Readership?” was published in Journalism Studies and is available online (open access). See also Thurman’s blog post for a take on the study.
Picture: Group shot, by Jojo Bombardo, license CC BY-ND 2.0