Survey: Mobile users as likely to be print news subscribers as non-mobile users

RJI | Media Briefing | Futurity | Adweek
Consumers aren’t rushing to replace their magazine and newspaper subscriptions with mobile news products, according to a new survey by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

The survey shows that although nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults use at least one mobile device per day, nearly equal percentages of mobile media device users and non-users – 39.8 percent and 40.2 percent respectively — said they still subscribed to at least one newspaper or news magazine, which suggests users of smartphones and tablets aren’t abandoning print media.

This RJI survey was conducted during the 1st quarter of 2012.


The RJI survey also finds that nearly half of those who own Apple iPads and 25 percent of Android-powered tablet owners, said that they still subscribe to printed newspapers and news magazines. Apple iPhone and Blackberry owners were significantly more likely to be newspaper or news magazine subscribers than were owners of Android-powered smartphones.

The survey also showed gender and age gaps in smartphone and tablet adoption.

The survey shows “news consumption ranks fourth among reasons people use mobile devices, behind interpersonal communications, entertainment, and internet usage for information not provided by news organizations,” reports Futurity.org, which features research from top universities in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada.

This research is consistent with comScore data from earlier this year that found consumers are rapidly adopting both smartphones and tablets, while still using PCs for news. The general trend seems to be that night owls read news on tablets, while mobile overtakes computers for at-home browsing.

This same comScore analysis found that the share of daily traffic to computers dropped on weekends.

Emma Bazilian reported in Adweek last month that digital readership for magazines is making slight gains but not enough to offset a decline in print readership. “Across the 190 magazines tracked by [a GfK MRI] survey, the total print audience declined by 1.7 percent in the past six months versus the prior six-month period. At the same time, digital readership (which could be digital-only or in combination with print readership) had increased by 24 percent on the same basis.” Digital-only reading added only one percent to overall magazine readership, according to Bazilian’s report.

This may explain why magazine publishers are failing to fully embrace the mobile revolution. “Two years after the iPad’s launch, many consumer magazines remain absent from the platform that’s redefining media consumption,” Peter Kirwan reports. “For some publishers, it’s as if 45 million iPad shipments never really happened.”

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