Online News Sources

Whilst TV, radio, and print remain largely the preserve of traditional news organisations, the online sphere has opened up huge new competition. Lower barriers to entry and the ability to operate across national boundaries has encouraged the growth of new players like Yahoo, Google News, and the Huffington Post (which now operates in five European countries). We’ve also seen the emergence of local pure players like Mediapart and Rue 89 in France and Politico and Buzzfeed in the United States. And blogs and social media are increasingly being seen as a regular source of news.

The extent to which these new players have taken market share and advertising revenue has depended on many factors, including the strength of existing media, their willingness to innovate, as well as the structure of the media market in general.

Either way the overall picture remains uneven, with traditional media most dominant in countries like the UK and Denmark.

Aggregators and new players have had the biggest impact in Japan and the United States, while social media have the strongest foothold in Brazil, Spain, and Italy.

Strength of traditional news brands online compared by country

Q3: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: Online users in each market (UK=1534 ; US=1470; Germany=698 ; France=658 Denmark=816 ; Urban Brazil=892; Italy = 775; Spain=776; Japan = 831)

As we saw in the Executive Summary in the UK and Japan broadcaster brands make up the majority of this traditional news brand usage. In Denmark and Spain and a number of other countries, it is former newspapers that have picked up majority market share. Driving further into the detail we can see very different media stories that lie behind this top-level view.

UK: Bastion of strong media brands

The BBC and a few other traditional brands dominate the UK online news market. More than half of our internet-based sample said they accessed BBC News via its website or mobile and tablet applications. BBC News has an even higher market share offline (66% of our sample). Even so it has successfully transitioned most of its natural audiences to the newer media, unlike long-term rival ITV News.

Top UK online brands

Q5: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week UK (n= 2078)

Top UK offline brands

Q5: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week UK (n= 2078)

Brand performance has remained largely stable since our survey 10 months ago. One new entrant is the Huffington Post which, with 7% of respondents citing it, has in less than two years built an online audience as large as the Sun, one of Britain’s most successful newspaper brands.

Japan: The power of aggregation

In sharp contrast to the UK, the top Japanese online media sites are pure players and aggregators. Unlike the BBC, public broadcaster NHK has been unable to turn its TV and radio success into online audiences. Instead it was the US pioneer Yahoo – together with Japanese partner SoftBank – that invested early and hard and has reaped the rewards.

Top Japanese online brands

Q5. Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week Japan (n=955)

Top Japanese offline brands

Q5. Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week Japan (n=955)

United States: A mixed picture of pure players and traditional brands

Yahoo is also the most used online news brand in the United States (32%) but television news brands like Fox, CNN, and NBC also have a strong online presence.

We can also see how the internet has created a larger and more vibrant national media. The costs of offline distribution across vast distances had tended to create a more locally based media culture, particularly in print. Now any publisher can gain access to a vast market at marginal cost. One of the biggest beneficiaries has been the Huffington Post – now owned by AOL – which in just a few short years has gained a bigger national reach than the New York Times and the Washington Post and is now investing heavily in online video and television news output.[1. http://www.themediabriefing.com/article/huffington-post-live-cable-tv-deal

Top US online brands

Q5.: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week US (n=1973)

Top US offline brands

Q5.: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week US (n=1973)

France: Fragmented online brands

As we’ve noted elsewhere in this report, France remains an unusual case in its reliance on traditional media and especially television news. Online news usage is lower than in other countries but is also highly fragmented. Newspapers lead the way but no single brand has been able to drive significant national audiences. At the same time there is very little interest in imported US brands like Yahoo or the French version of the Huffington Post. In sharp contrast to the US and UK, television brands have failed to make much of an impact online. The most successful online news site is a free newspaper (20minutes) but other innovators include online-only providers like Rue89 and investigative journal Mediapart.

Top French online brands

Q5: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week France (n= 965)

Top French offline brands

Q5: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week France (n= 965)

Germany: Traditional media

In Germany, we see a similar picture with strong traditional brands achieving significant market share offline but a much more fragmented picture online. This is partly because public broadcasters have been restricted in the level of investment they have been able to make in online services; meanwhile print publications such as Spiegel and Bild are doing quite well online, alongside the new entrant Google News. In general, the strong regional structure of the German media may have contributed to the lack of national players of scale able to push online innovation and consumption.

Top German online brands

Q5: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week Germany (n= 1048)

Top German offline brands

Q5: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week Germany (n= 1048)

It is possible to discern some overall patterns in these very different stories. In general, traditional brands cannot expect to achieve the same level of reach online as they deliver offline. They are no longer protected by high barriers to entry and face much wider competition. This has been especially true for broadcast brands as they move to the web (see ‘Brand winners and losers’ below).

On the other hand, a very few brands have been able to deliver very significant market share (the BBC in the UK and Yahoo in Japan and the US). Here, early mover advantage has set down patterns that may persist for years to come. And a small number of stronger newspaper brands has also gained market share by consistent investment in online news.

In general, broadcasters have tended to lose most market share especially those who had privileged access to limited spectrum. Whilst most newspapers have also lost market share, some with strong brands have been able to find new audiences at home and abroad.

Brand winners and losers

Newspaper winners

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Brand Offline Online Gain
Guardian 4% 40% +6%
Der Spiegel 12% 17% +5%
New York Times 6% 9% +3%
Le Monde 6% 13% +7%

Broadcasting losers

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Brand Offline Online Gain
ZDF (Germany) 45% 9% -36%
TF1 (France) 48% 11% -37%
NHK (Japan) 50% 10% -40%
ITV News (UK) 33% 3% -30%

Q5: Which, if any, of the following have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week (various)