The classic news consumption curve is being transformed by the growth in new mobile devices, which are extending the access points through the day. Aggregating data from all our 12 counties we see that mainly digital users have a much flatter consumption curve than those who still consume news via mainly traditional means. With the latter group, we see more distinct peaks around early morning, lunchtime, and early evening, coinciding with the key TV and radio broadcasts.
News access by time of day – digital vs traditional
Interestingly we see different patterns across countries. The UK curve broadly mirrors the times of the core radio and TV news shows – reflecting the high proportion of traditional users. The Spanish tend to start and finish later, with a major dip in usage during the afternoon – showing that there is some underlying truth in national stereotypes. In Finland, the main TV news shows are spread throughout the evening, leading to their slightly later consumption curve.
News access by time of day – selected countries
Where people access the news – six-country study
This year we looked in detail at where people access the news in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, and Finland. Across all our countries we see that the majority of news access remains in the home – most of it in communal spaces like the living room and kitchen. Much of this is driven by older people who tend to spend more time at home, while the young are on the move more using public and private transport and spending time in other people’s homes.
The patterns are remarkably similar across counties, although work usage is almost twice as low in France as in Finland. The Germans, Danes, and Finns access news more in private transport, which reflects different patterns of commuting (more driving, etc.) when compared with Spain.
Where people access the news – percentages in selected countries
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|Travelling / Out & About||34%||29%||29%||27%||19%|
|Work / place of study||39%||38%||34%||26%||11%|
The impact of mobile phones and tablets on the daily commute
On public transport the mobile phone has extended its lead over printed newspapers and over the tablet in Denmark and the UK, where we’ve been collecting data since 2013. In the UK, smartphone use has jumped 18 percentage points to 66%. Print in the UK has only shown a marginal decline, partly because of the availability and convenience of free commuter newspapers like the Evening Standard and Metro.
Mobile phone is main device for accessing news on public transport – UK
Mobile phone is main device for accessing news on public transport – Denmark
When we look at the specific platforms used in the home to access news, we can see the wide range of choices in play every day. In communal spaces such as the living room and kitchen, the TV remains by far the most regularly accessed but, over the last two years, we see a significant increase in the use of mobiles and tablets in both the UK and Denmark.
Mobiles and tablets are invading communal spaces in the home – UK
The attention challenge for TV News
As people spend more time with digital devices in the living room, we wanted to explore levels of distraction around traditional TV news bulletins and programmes. Are people paying less attention – and thus less well informed – because they are regularly multitasking?
In the UK we found that on average more than half of those who watched TV news said they were not paying full attention. Most attention was paid in the evenings, the most popular time for television news. For those who admitted to being distracted, getting on for half were checking their emails (43%) or browsing the web generally (42%) during the television news. A quarter (27%) said they regularly checked social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Under 35s were 50% more likely to be doing something else than over 35s. They were also much more likely to be checking social media feeds.
Distraction around TV news by time of day and type – UK
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Those who pay partial attention, say they tend to do these tasks when watching TV…
|Domestic tasks (cooking, ironing, cleaning)||55%|
|Talk to friends and/or family||41%|
|Check social media feeds||27%|
|Check email computer||43%|
|Browse web generally||42%|
|Play online games||18%|
|Read newspapers, magazines, etc.||22%|
Base: All who watched TV news in the last week but only gave it part of their attention UK = 1402.
In personal spaces, the internet has now overtaken the TV as the main way of getting news. There are fewer TVs being used for news in these parts of the home than there were two years ago.