September 30, 2015

The third in a series of studies of millennials and news finds a willingness of the much-analyzed generation to pay for several types of content. But news badly trails movies, TV and cable as worth spending some money on.

A companion study, released just last Thursday, showed large segments of the millennials not especially interested in following news.  This one argues that “Selling news to young people remains difficult, but the data from a new study finds reasons for optimism and suggests new ways to think about the challenge.”

Those who do pay for news are likely to be interested in practical matters like weather and traffic or information that will help them professionally (though sports and entertainment sites are also popular).

MillennialPay
Another finding was that older millennials are twice as likely to pay for a print newspaper or magazine as those 18-24 — perhaps providing a little hope that some of the youngest adults will age into interest in print.

The findings come from the Media Insight Project, a joint initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research at the University of Chicago.  The researchers surveyed 1045 millennials in January and February of this year, supplemented by focus groups.

The survey found 77 percent had paid in the last year for movies and television, 69 percent for cable, 54 percent for music and 51 percent for video games.  Roughly 30 percent had paid for print magazine or newspaper subscriptions. Adding in various digital options, 53 percent pay for some sort of news.

Even among those who say keeping up with news is important to them, only half pay for content, the rest getting what they need free. And even among those who do pay, the largest source of news is free service like Facebook or Google.

Of those who do pay for news subscriptions, 41 percent use both print and digital, 38 percent print only and 21 percent digital only.  That suggests some lingering sentiment that digital news ought to be available for free.

Separate research from the Newspaper Association of America has found that despite the widespread use of bundled print + digital access subscriptions, more than half of print readers (an older demographic) never read local news in digital formats.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
Rick Edmonds

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