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News consumption continues to grow across the UK

Censuswide | Survey Consultants | Research | Research Agency | Corporate Research | Consumer Research | Focus Groups | Brand Perception

As we continue to navigate to the new normal, we have been surveying Brits across the country on their media habits. These are the results of our third survey.

News consumption continues to grow for national news

The top types of publications Brits are reading at least once a week continues to be national news, local news and international news. We are seeing an increase as time goes on for national news, while local and international consumption has been moving up and down although not by much:

Latest survey Survey two Survey one
National news 53% 52% 46%
Local news 46% 49% 45%
International news 35% 38% 34%

In addition, from the respondents who are reading publications at least once a week, almost 3 in 5 (58%) said they are reading these more than before the pandemic. This percentage has risen from 48% in our first survey to 56% in the second survey and now stands at 58%.

Our latest research shows that almost three quarters (72%) of 16-24-year olds* surveyed are reading more of these publications than they usually do, which has risen from 40% in the last survey. The same goes for those aged 55+, 50% of whom are doing the same, rising from 37% in survey one.

Outside of COVID-19, why are people reading the news more?

Unsurprisingly, the main reason people** are reading the news more is to keep up-to-date with the coronavirus virus situation, which came out top in all three surveys (77% in the first survey, 80% in the second survey and 75% in the latest survey). It’s interesting though, that we are now seeing a decrease in this percentage, which perhaps suggests the beginning of coronavirus fatigue. Meanwhile, there is a consistent increase in those reading the news because they have more spare time and because they want some good news.

The following reasons were most often cited by respondents** for reading these publications more:

Latest survey Survey two Survey one
Because they have more spare time 45% 43% 22%
Because they want some good news 24% 23% 20%
Because people are sharing more news stories with them 19% 21% 21%

Why are people reading the news less?

1 in 10 (10%) of respondents*** are reading publications less than usual though, and the top three reasons most often cited are:

Latest survey Survey two Survey one
Because the news is so negative 33% 23% 30%
Because the news makes them anxious 32% 32% 27%
Because I don’t trust what I read 21% 21% 24%
Because I don’t have enough time 21% 19% 22%
Because they find the news scary 15% 22% 25%

Interestingly, the only consistent decrease for why respondents are reading the news less, is because they find the news scary, which could suggest people are becoming accustomed to news on the pandemic. However, it’s worth noting that the news is still making people anxious.

How has the content that people want changed?

While most news outlets are balancing positive stories with news that reinforces the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in, we wanted to find out what type of content Brits wanted to see. Once again, we have seen an increase in the statistics.

The top 3 types of content most often cited by respondents in the first week are:

Latest survey Survey two Survey one
Stories backed up with data 44% 36% 34%
Heart-warming stories about human kindness 41% 45% 37%
Stories about the rest of the world 38% 42% 32%
More information about coronavirus 34% 41% 34%

Interestingly, stories backed up with data’ has taken the top spot over ‘heart-warming stories about human kindness’ for the first time. With a lot of information out there to navigate, perhaps it’s the facts and figures that the public now look to. Meanwhile, from survey two to the latest survey, respondents wanting more information about the coronavirus has seen a big drop from 41% to 34%.

It’s clear then, that the spotlight is still very much on the media industry, but the expectations of Brits continues to shift and change, which creates a challenging environment for our industry to navigate.

From the data, we can see that the general public are still very much reliant on the media and journalism to keep them up-to-date but are also wary of what they are reading and want to avoid misinformation. Meanwhile, an appetite for fact-based articles increases while the appetite for coronavirus information dampens.

All we can really do is to continue listening to the public, provide them with correct information and do our best to create a diverse range of content to meet the changing appetite of the public.

For our previous analysis of results, please visit here.

Notes:

*Respondents who are reading publications at least once a week

**Respondents who are reading publications at least once a week and reading currently more than they usually do

***Respondents who are reading publications at least once a week but reading currently less than they usually do

The first round of research was conducted by Censuswide, with a sample of 2,001 nationally representative respondents aged 16+ in the UK between 20.03.2020 – 23.03.2020.

The second round of research was conducted by Censuswide, with a sample of 2,036 nationally representative respondents aged 16+ in the UK between 27.03.2020 – 30.03.2020.

The third round of research was conducted by Censuswide, with a sample of 2,009 nationally representative respondents aged 16+ in the UK between 11.05.2020 – 12.05.2020.

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