Executive Summary and Key Findings of the 2013 Report

News is becoming more mobile, more social, and more real-time. This year’s survey reveals continuing shifts in how, when, and where people access the news, with digital patterns becoming more entrenched – particularly amongst the younger half of the population. Audiences increasingly want news on any device, in any format, and at any time of day.

But our survey reveals that the multi-platform and digital revolution is not proceeding at an even pace in all countries. What happens in the US does not necessary follow automatically in Europe or elsewhere. Geography, culture, and government policy also play their part, with Germany and France still showing strong allegiance to traditional forms of media. We also see marked differences in ‘participatory cultures’, with very different rates of take up in social media, commenting, and voting across our surveyed countries.

For traditional brands – and especially newspapers – these changes bring ever-greater competition and more disruption to business models. But this year’s survey offers some signs of hope for those investing in original news content. More people say they’ve paid for digital news in the past 10 months and we have data for the first time about the types and frequency of digital payment. Traditional brands continue to attract the largest online audiences and we find that trust in news brands remains uniquely valued by young and old. We lay out our data on subsequent pages and in full on our website, but first here is a summary of our key findings.

Rapid Growth in Both Mobile and Tablet Use for News

Tablet usage has doubled in the 10 months since the last survey in those countries covered in both 2012 and 2013. Weekly news use has risen from 8% to 16% of our UK sample and from 13% to 25% in Denmark.1

Percent accessing news via tablet by country

Q8a/Q8b: Which, if any, of the following devices have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Germany (n=1062) France (n=973) Denmark (n=1007)

Mobile usage is also up substantially. In many countries smartphone users are now in the majority2 and most of them use these devices to access news every week. Denmark leads the way with 43% weekly news usage from a smartphone. Germany lags with 22%.

Trend to Multi-Platform Consumption

While the computer remains the primary device for accessing digital news, the key underlying trend is about growth in access from multiple devices. One-third of our entire global sample now gets news on at least two devices and 9% use more than three.

This is important because, along with other researchers,3

Frequency of access grows with devices (all countries)

Scroll data area to see more

Device Several times a day
ALL News users 62%
Computer 68%
Smartphone 73%
Tablet 75%
Tablet and smartphone 86%
All three 88%

Q1b: Typically, how often do you access news (in any way)?

Base: All markets (n=11004)

Some devices are used more heavily for news than others. 85% of computer users say they access news on that device each week, compared with 63% of smartphone users, 60% of tablet users, 54% of smart TV users, and only 17% for the e-reader.

But multi-platform is not just about digital news. Across all of our countries, an average of 49% of those who access news on a tablet say they also read a printed newspaper at least once each week; 81% also watch TV news and we see similar patterns with smartphone users.

Percent of tablet and smartphone users using other media sources weekly (all countries)

Digital may be impacting traditional platforms but it is not yet replacing them. For most people digital news is extending the range of options available.

Uneven Pace of Change – Differences between and within Countries

Despite the general growth of online and multi-platform news, we find that a sizeable minority is sticking with traditional platforms such as TV, radio, and print, particularly in Germany and France. Despite this being an online survey, one in three of our French and German samples said they had only used traditional news platforms in the previous week. In Germany, we find that 58% of our sample are using only traditional or mainly traditional news platforms4 – compared with 35% in the US and 29% in Japan.

Amongst online news users, we also see marked differences between countries over the extent to which traditional news brands are being disrupted. In countries like the UK and Denmark, traditional news brands continue to attract 80% or more of the online audience, whilst in Japan and the US ‘pure players’ and aggregators have attracted a much bigger market share. In the UK, the strength of broadcast brands is largely accounted for by the BBC, while in both the US and Japan it is a newer player, Yahoo that attracts most users with 32% and 63% respectively. Social media and blogs are used more as a source of news in Spain, Italy, urban Brazil, and the US, than in our other countries.

How traditional news brands perform online by country

Scroll data area to see more

  UK Ger Spa Ita Fra Den US Bra Jap
Broadcast brands 45% 20% 36% 31% 18% 35% 35% 42% 38%
Newspaper brands 35% 25% 42% 37% 26% 54% 31% 37% 26%
New online brands 24% 28% 25% 38% 26% 18% 41% 43% 66%
Social media, blogs 23% 21% 35% 35% 20% 33% 32% 51% 25%

Q3: Which, if any, of the following have you used in the last week as a source of news?

Base: All markets UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Spain (n=979) Japan (n=978) Italy (n=965) Germany (n=1062) France (n=973) Denmark (n=1007) Urban Brazil (n=985)

Thirdly we see marked differences in behaviour within countries – with a clear divide between younger and older groups. Younger people are more likely to use social media and aggregator brands and in all countries they show a strong preference for online. For ‘under 45s’ – almost half the population – the internet is now the MAIN source of news as well as their most frequently accessed source. For ‘over 45s’ the main source remains TV, with other traditional platforms also important.

MAIN source of news by age (all countries)

Q4: You say you’ve used these sources of news in the last week, which would you say is your MAIN source of news?

Base: All who have used news sources in the last week (n=10843)

This is a split defined more by age than any other demographic factor and reflects the habits of those who have grown up with the internet or have adapted to it as part of their working lives.

It should be noted that our numbers understate the importance of traditional platforms because of our (online) sample. However this also means that the platform differences noted above are likely to be even more marked amongst the older groups.

Newspaper Readership and Purchase

This is the first year we have collected data of newspaper (printed) purchase, so the most interesting findings are around the differences between our nine surveyed countries rather than changes over time.

Claimed newspaper purchase (at least once a week) remains high in most countries. It is strongest in Japan (68%), Italy (59%), and Germany (56%) and lowest in France (39%) and the US (42%).

There are sharp differences in the balance of ad hoc purchase (newsstand/shop) vs ongoing commitment (mainly home delivery). Japan has 84% home delivery whereas in Italy 81% of purchases are at the newsstand or shops. Germany has a healthy balance, with a strong leaning to home delivery.

Paying for Digital News

Whilst 50% of our global sample (average) said they had bought a printed newspaper in the last week, only 5% said they had paid for digital news in the same time period. This is partly because the majority of online newspapers still do not charge for news – although that is changing rapidly with the erection of paywalls, combined subscriptions, and app-based purchases.

Since our last survey, we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of respondents paying for online news – albeit from a low base. In the UK 9% (+5) of our sample said they had paid for digital news. France is at 13% (+5) and USA 12% (+3).

Percent paying for digital news by country

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid for digital news service?

Base: All markets UK (n=2078) US (n=2028)  Germany (n=1062) France (n=973) Denmark (n=1007)

Percentages that said yes in the last week, month, year or longer than a year

In the United States, we find that smartphone and tablet users are significantly more likely to pay than other online news users. Even after controlling for the following variables: interest in news, age, gender, education and income, they are on average almost twice as likely to pay as those who don’t use these devices. We do not see the same device impact in the UK where the eco-system around paid news is less developed and there are a large number of high quality free news apps in the market. 5

All four of the countries surveyed for the first time in 2013 show higher percentages of people who have paid for digital news in the last year – with Brazil (24%) and Italy (21%) leading the way. Italy and Spain’s figures are largely driven by one-off payments for apps and articles while the US and Denmark statistics are more fuelled by ongoing digital subscription.

Of those who are not currently paying, more than one in ten (14% on average) said they were very likely or somewhat likely to pay for digital news in the future (‘for sources that you like’). In Brazil the figure was a striking 58%.

Where and When we Access the News

There are new data in this year’s survey from the UK and Denmark about the devices and locations used for accessing news. These show tablets are still mainly used in the home – and specifically in the living room. Everywhere else, given the choice, the smartphone is preferred over the tablet as a way of accessing news. Portability trumps screen size.

In the workplace 71% of news access comes via the computer, while in the car, radio still dominates (84%). On public transport in Denmark, people are twice as likely to use a mobile phone for news (63%) as to read a printed newspaper (33%). In the UK, the data show 48% use mobile phones, 34% use print, and 6% access news via a tablet.

Media used to access news on public transport (UK and Denmark)

UK3B: Please mention the key news media you used in these locations.

Base: Those who access news while travelling via public transport UK (n=270) Den (n=92)

Pathways to News – the Rise of the New Gatekeepers

Last year, we were only able to ask the question about how people discover news in the UK. Now we are able to see results from all nine countries, with significant differences emerging. Previous US research6, along with our survey last year, suggested that brand was still the most important pathway to news, followed by search, and then aggregators and social media. This does not appear to be a universal pattern.

In France and Germany, search engines are the most important gateway – used about twice as often as in the UK. In Brazil, social media are the top-ranked gateway for our urban-based online sample (60% said it was one of the five most important ways of finding news). The same is true in Spain (45% social media compared with 40% for search). Japanese consumers, by contrast, are more likely to get news from aggregators and portals, followed by search.

Most important gateways to news

Scroll data area to see more

  UK Ger Spa Ita Fra Den US Bra Jap
Brand 34% 32% 38% 35% 16% 55% 20% 47% 28%
Search 24% 40% 40% 49% 45% 30% 33% 44% 39%
Social 17% 15% 45% 38% 14% 22% 30% 60% 12%
Aggregators 17% 16% 17% 16% 12% 7% 26% 37% 43%

Q10: Thinking about how you FIND news online, which are the main ways that you come across news stories? Chose up to five.

Base: All markets UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Spain (n=979) Japan (n=978) Italy (n=965) Germany (n=1062) France (n=973) Denmark (n=1007) Urban Brazil (n=985)

Beneath the headline numbers, however, again we see significant generational differences, with social media now rated more important than search amongst the ‘under 45s’. By contrast, amongst the ‘over 45s’ in the UK, only 9% think social media are an important way of finding news.

Those using social media to FIND news (selected countries)

Q10: Thinking about how you FIND news online, which are the main ways that you come across news stories? (select up to FIVE).

Base: All markets UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Germany (n=1062) Urban Brazil (n=985)

This evidence from nine countries paints a picture where brands are being increasingly dis-intermediated by a growing range of pathways to their content. This is especially the case for light and occasional users and for younger users.

Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon now have a significant and growing stake in the news industry. Their prominence as gateways enables them to take a share of advertising revenue and/or a cut of subscription revenues if, for example, people access via a branded app. Apple is a particularly dominant force in the news business in some countries – the UK, Denmark, and the US – but less so elsewhere.

Market share of Apple devices by country

  UK Ger Spa Ita Fra Den US Bra Jap
iPhones 39% 26% 25% 33% 34% 47% 43% 28% 56%
iPads 63% 48% 42% 45% 51% 80% 58% 39% 70%

Q8a: Which, if any, of the following devices do you ever use for any purpose? (Multiple answers allowed).

Base:  All smartphone users UK (n=1037) Germany (n=462) Spain (n=538) Japan (n=255) Italy (n=404) France (n=398) Denmark (n=617) Urban Brazil (n=418), US (n=913)  All Tablet users UK (n=585) Germany (n=188) Spain (n=220) Japan (n=123) Italy (n=222) France (n=189) Denmark (n=360) Urban Brazil (n=295), US (n=545)

In Denmark, Japan, the US (and the UK) there is a relatively equal split between Apple iPhones and other devices (mostly Android). Elsewhere, other operating systems such as Android and Blackberry tend to dominate. Apple has only a quarter of the market in Germany (26%) and Spain (25%).

The Enduring Role of Brands and the Role of Trust

Our survey cast further light on the importance of trusted news brands. In all countries we asked if people agreed that they preferred to get news from sites they know and trust. The figures were universally high, with 90% supporting the proposition in Brazil, 82% in the US, and 77% in the UK. People who consume heavily and are most absorbed by news are far more likely to agree with the statement (90% of UK multiple device users).

Trust and brand recognition by (selected) country

Scroll data area to see more

  UK Fra US Bra Jap
Prefer news from sites I know/trust 77% 76% 82% 90% 71%
Don’t notice which sites I look at 16% 37% 24% 34% 44%

Q9: Thinking about the different kinds of news available to you online, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements.

Base: All UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Japan (n=985) France (n=973) Urban Brazil (n=985) % agree

Asking the question in a different way (‘I don’t notice which sites I’m looking at…’) showed a slightly different picture. The UK, which has strong traditional news brands, showed the lowest levels of agreement (16%). Brazil (34%), France (37%), and Japan (44%) – which all demonstrate greater usage of aggregators or newer ‘pure player’ brands – had the highest levels. One key factor in reducing brand recognition appears to be social media. Heavy social media users in the UK are more likely to agree that ‘they don’t notice which sites’ they are using (23%).

Trust in traditional brands was also high when compared with blogs or social media. Broadcaster websites in the UK were trusted by 79%, with newspapers showing over 60%. In comparison, Facebook (8%) and Twitter (9%) were widely mistrusted – although heavy social media users were significantly more likely to trust what they found. Trust in news brands increases significantly with the amount of usage, so it is not surprising that smartphone and tablet news users also show more trust in traditional brands. We also find, in terms of their behaviour, that users of these devices are much more likely to go directly to a brand (50%) using a desktop icon, on a smartphone, compared to the overall sample (34%). The more devices – and the heavier the use – the better they tend to do.

The Impact of Tablets and Smartphones on Brand Performance

This year we also asked respondents in all countries about specific news brands they accessed on different devices (computers, tablets, and smartphones) to see if there was an impact on market share.

We find that brands that have a reputation for breaking news, like Sky News in the UK, TF1 in France, and CNN in the US, tend to do better on mobile devices. Sky News has 15% share on the web and 25% on mobile in the UK, driven by a strong app offer and promotion from TV. In contrast, old-style web aggregators like Yahoo and MSN – where news services are linked to default browser settings – seem to be losing out in an app-based world – at least in the UK and US.

Breaking news brands vs aggregators market share by platform

Scroll data area to see more

Brand Computer Mobile Gain/Loss Tablet
Sky News 15% 35% +10% 21%
CNN 16% 19% +3% 16%
TF1 10% 16% +6% 14%
Yahoo! (US) 37% 25% -12% 27%
Yahoo! (UK) 20% 8% -12% 9%
MSN (US) 14% 10% -4% 10%

Q8c: You say you access news via a Computer,/mobile, tablet. When using that device which of the following news sources have you used in the last week?

Base various

These differences, however, are very much the exception. Most brands do about the same in terms of market share on mobile and tablet as the general web, with the same problems of discovery given the extent of global competition.

Selected traditional news brands market share by platform

Scroll data area to see more

Brand Computer Mobile Tablet
Bild (Germany) 21% 21% 16%
Daily Mail (UK) 18% 14% 16%
La Republica (Italy) 34% 37% 38%
Le Monde (France) 16% 18% 15%
El Mundo (Spain) 24% 17% 22%
New York Times (US) 11% 9% 12%

Q8c: You say you access news via a  Computer,/mobile, tablet. When using that device which of the following news sources have you used in the last week?

Base various

As tablets and smartphones become more mainstream, people seem to be accessing the brands they feel comfortable with elsewhere. Although niche players can do well, scale and the ability of brands to cut through across platform are likely to become increasingly important.

Partiality in News

There is a growing debate in parts of Europe about the continuing relevance of impartial news provision – particularly on television. Many parts of the world (the US, Italy, and Brazil) already have a more partial, less regulated media system. Our survey found a strong preference in all countries for news that has ‘no point of view’ – led by Japan (81%), France (78%), Germany (76%), and the UK (70%). Brazil was the big outlier with only 28%.

Attitudes to partial or impartial news (all country view)

Q5c: Thinking about the different kinds of news available to you, do you prefer? (three options)

Base: All markets (n=11004) % agree Respondent quotes from UK

In general about a quarter of our samples preferred news that shared their viewpoint – lowest in Denmark (13%) and Japan (15%). The Brazilians (29%) and Danes (27%) love to be challenged by their news provider, whereas the Germans (1%) and Japanese (4%) do not.

Types of News

We find that digital news is gradually moving away from the article and picture format that has dominated for almost 20 years. Short video clips and the streaming of live news TV or radio coverage are becoming more popular. Americans consume the largest amount of short form video (27%), almost twice as much as those in the UK (14%), but when put together with podcasts and TV and radio streams almost half (47%) of our UK sample now uses news audio or video each week. Another recent innovation has been the development of live blogs as a way of covering breaking news and sports stories. 35% of our Japanese sample used these live pages at least once a week, with the French (19%), Italians and Spanish (16%) also enthusiastic. Only 8% of our Danish sample consumes live blogs – but they prefer to read longer articles (40%).

Sharing and Participation around News

As last year, we find that there are marked international differences in the level and types of online participation with news. Taking one example – commenting on a news story via a social network – we can see that the Spanish (27%) Italians (26%), and Americans (21%) are more than twice as likely to comment on a news story via a social network as the British (10%). Brazilians are around five times more likely to comment than Germans or Japanese.

International differences around commenting on news (in social networks)

Q13: During an average week in which, if any, of the following ways do you share or participate in news coverage?

Base: UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Spain (n=979) Japan (n=978) Italy (n=965) Germany (n=1062) France (n=973) Denmark (n=1007) Urban Brazil (n=985)

More generally, Brazil (92%), Italy (85%), and Spain (84%) have the highest levels of participation and engagement when we aggregate 12 separate types of online and offline engagement. This compares with Japan (64%), which has the lowest level of participation, along with Northern European countries such as Denmark, the UK, and Germany. This suggests that cultural factors (rather than access to technical tools) play the biggest part in the extent of online engagement with news.

The sharing of news through online networks continues to grow. In Brazil, 44% of our sample of online users said they share a news story on a weekly basis via a social network. 32% did so by email.

In the UK 18% had shared a news story in the last week by email or social network but amongst those actively interested in news the figures are much higher. 29% of those with a high interest in news share a news link at least once a week.

There is conflicting evidence about whether adoption of new devices is encouraging these trends. In United States, Apple smartphone users are 41% more likely to share news than other digital users –when controlling for the following factors: interest in news, age, gender, education and income. Tablets, on the other hand, do not seem to significantly encourage sharing in the same way when taking into account these variables.

Facebook, email, and Twitter dominate the sharing of news content in the UK, where no other network gets more than 3% weekly usage. We do not have data on social network usage from elsewhere but other research shows the mix of networks can differ significantly.

In the UK we have developed a model of participation that shows that the majority of our sample now participates in some way with news each week. We have identified a group of intense participators (10%) who engage proactively and share stories widely, often many times a day, and a group of easy participators (30%) who like and rate stories and post occasional comments. A further group participates only offline (23%) by talking about news to friends and colleagues and the remaining 37% are passive each week.

Smart TVs and Connected News

Finally, our survey focused on the fast-growing market in internet-connected TVs, including some specific additional questions in two countries: France and the UK.

Market share of Smart TVs by country

  UK Ger Spa Ita Fra Den US Bra Jap
Smart TV 4% 6% 11% 12% 11% 8% 4% 13% 5%

Q8b: Which, if any, of the following devices have you used to access news in the last week?

Base: All who use these devices for any purpose  UK (n=1949)  US (n=1943)  Spain (n=922)  Japan (n=871)  Italy (n=863) Germany (n=1012) France (n=836) Denmark (n=895) Urban Brazil (n=960)

Overall, the Brazilians (13%), Italians (12%), French (11%), and Spanish (11%) use connected TVs most for news – running at about three times the levels seen in the UK or the US.

Our respondents strongly agreed with the proposition that they would like to have more control over the scheduling of news content (like on a PC), 46% agreed in the UK and 64% in France. Also our sample was keen to have on-demand content fronted by a presenter they were familiar with in France (57%) and also the UK (52%).

When the whole sample was asked about potential interest in different types of on-demand news services on a television, there was a preference expressed for video content over text and a particular interest in breaking news alerts for TV (64% interest in France and 56% interest in the UK). Otherwise the most popular on-demand content on a TV was weather (53% France and 48% UK).


This year’s data offer contradictory evidence about the nature and rate of change in the news industry. The overwhelming message is that audiences increasingly expect news that they can access anytime, anywhere. But that doesn’t mean they only want online news. Audiences may be embracing news on tablets and smartphones but they still want to catch up with broadcast news and they enjoy taking time with the printed page. It’s a multi-platform world and becoming more so.

At the same time – and pulling in a different direction – we see the strong influence of habit, culture, and tradition. We see countries like Germany and France that are slow to change and we see significant groups – mainly older – within all countries who are refusing to join in the digital and multi-platform news revolution altogether. These divisions between and within countries are making it increasingly difficult to address audience needs with the simplicity that was possible in the past. Embracing digital is clearly the future, but news brands can’t afford to leave behind groups who still carry huge influence and drive most of the revenue.

Clearly news brands still matter but a strong name and long heritage is no longer enough. Our data show that there still is a yearning – in an ocean of content – for trusted news across a range of subject areas, but newer brands like Yahoo and the Huffington Post are also proving they can fill that role alongside a raft of specialist providers, blogs, and social media too.

Against this background, it is not surprising to see more and more anguished debates around editorial and distribution strategies. Most news organisations are reconfiguring their workflows for the multi-platform age – trying to drive more output to more platforms with the same number (or fewer) journalists. Finding new audiences and revenues is proving more challenging. Some news organisations are looking to exploit niches, others are pushing for scale and paywalls are going up around the world. As ever, success will depend on a combination of clear strategies and a strong understanding of changing audience behaviours. In that respect, we hope this annual survey provides useful and insightful data to help inform the challenges to come.

  1. These figures are not exactly comparable because we routed the questions slightly differently last year. They are however consistent with other data showing a sharp increase in news traffic from tablets.
  2. Ofcom Technology tracker Oct.–Dec. 2012 shows 55% smartphone ownership in the UK. A Pew Internet Project survey from Aug.–Sept. 2012 found 45% of US adults owned a smartphone (66% among 18–29 year olds).
  3. This is confirmed by other research – see Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Mobile Devices and News Consumption, https://www.journalism.org/2012/03/18/mobile-devices-and-news-consumption-some-good-signs-for-journalism/ we find that as people acquire more devices they consume more news in aggregate (time spent) – but also access news more often throughout the day.[4. This aggregate information is also borne out at country level (see p. xx).
  4. We have segmented our samples using both platform- and interest-based approaches, which are explained on p. xx.
  5. The methodology behind our controlled regression test around the impact of device can be found here (link to to a page)
  6. Pew State of the Media report 2012.