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Mobile and social consumption of news on the rise: Report

MUMBAI: Audiences are consuming more news now through web and mobile. At the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic to their sites and associated applications coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers, according to Pew Research Center’s analysis of comScore data.

More visitors to Yahoo, NBC and other internet sites are getting their news from mobile devices than from desktop computers, according to ‘State of the News Media 2015’ report published by the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project.

Pew also found that nearly 50 per cent web users learn about politics and government from Facebook, roughly the same percentage as those who seek the news through local television and double those who visit Yahoo or Google News.

However, desktop visitors to these sites tend to spend more time per visit than mobile visitors do. For half of these top 50 news sites, which included legacy print, cable, network, international and public broadcasting outlets, as well as digital-only entities, visitors from desktops stayed longer than those coming through mobile.

Yahoo/ABC is by far the most popular internet news provider, with nearly 128 million unique visitors. CNN Network is second with just over 101 million visitors, closely followed by NBC News Digital. Other top online sources for news include the Huffington Post, CBS News and USA Today.

Digital and mobile developments have also broadened the world of audio. Podcast listening is on the rise, which could breathe new life into audio journalism, states the report.

NPR’s podcast downloads grew 41 per cent year on year, according to the company’s internal data. The percentage listening to online radio via mobile devices continues to rise, while the percentage listening on a desktop is falling.

As of January 2015, 35 per cent of mobile-owning adults have listened to online radio in the car, up from 21 per cent in 2013 and nearly six times that of 2010 (6 per cent).

“Americans’ changing news habits have a tremendous impact on how and to what extent our country functions within an informed society. So too does the state of the organisations producing the news and making it available to citizens day in and day out,” the report explains.

However, even as mobile and social news habits are evolving, legacy platforms have not been abandoned although some are faring better than others.

Local TV continues to capture the attention of viewers, seeing a 3 per cent increase in the consumption of evening news and a 2 per cent increase in that of morning and midday newscasts in 2014.

The report adds that network television news saw a second straight year of audience growth with a 5 per cent rise in evening and 2 per cent in morning, for a combined average evening viewership of roughly 24 million.

On the other hand, cable news had another rough year with primetime median viewership down 8 per cent across three channels, namely Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. Fox News fared the best, but still saw a decline of 1 per cent year on year.

After witnessing small gains in 2013, newspapers saw both daily and Sunday circulation fall 3 per cent in 2014. The decline was seen across papers of all sizes. Since 2004, newspaper weekday circulation has fallen 19 per cent, states the report.

Meanwhile, Hispanic news media is struggling with the complexity of trying to reach a population that is both growing and becoming more native born, with greater use of the English language.

The report highlighted that print circulation declined at the three long-standing Hispanic daily papers, and Univision, the leading Hispanic-oriented television network, saw audience declines for its signature national news programmes after record highs in 2013. At the same time, a handful of English-language, Hispanic-oriented news websites such as Latin Post are trying to find a place in the market.

The findings further revealed that financially the newspaper industry continues to be hard hit. Newspaper ad revenue declined another 4 per cent year on year to $19.9 billion, less than half of what it was a decade ago. The 1 per cent growth in circulation revenue among publicly traded newspaper companies suggests that their gains do not make up for advertising losses.