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Survey Says: How Viewing Audiences Are Thinking About News

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Learn more about news media streaming at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Jonathan Hurd: One thing about who watches live news that's really interesting, and maybe not surprising though: Younger audiences are much less likely to watch the news than older audiences are. And you can see in the 55+, more than 80% of people say that they watch news at least monthly. And for younger people, it's only about half. There is some income skew as well, but not anywhere near as much as there is an age skew and little, gender skew, for the most part. But it does show how at least watching live news so it's video and live, varies a lot by age range.

We also asked, "What was your primary source of news before the pandemic?" Again, very striking age-related differences that a significant number--around 30%--of under-25-year-olds significant number are actually getting their news from social media among other forms of media as well. But the heavy impact of social media on news consumption is quite striking in those younger audiences. And also, cable news being skewed to older audiences is pretty interesting as well.

In terms of the impact of the pandemic, as Eric mentioned when he kicked off the session, we asked about change in time spent consuming news from all sources and most respondents at all ages said that they were consuming more news than they were prior to the pandemic, with some people--almost 20%--saying in the range of six hours more per week. So quite a bit more attention on news spent across all age ranges as a result of the pandemic in terms of online news consumption.

One of the things that we've seen in other surveys that we've done as well--but it's a bit surprising if this isn't something you've seen before--is the age-related skew in choosing paid versions of online news without ads. Most people at all age ranges prefer a free version of online news, but what's interesting is that younger consumers are more likely to say that they would choose choose a paid version.

Now, this is a very coarse way of looking at it. We do all kinds of price elasticity studies and everything, but the predisposition of younger audiences to paid more so than older is pretty interesting. And not surprisingly, there is a bit of a skew in income range as well in terms of a preference for type of news. And then for people who are willing to pay for an online news subscription, what are the reasons? I was personally quite surprised that this desire to support or fund journalism was named by about a third of respondents, as well as a range of sources. And you have to go down a fair level to seeing "I don't want to see ads, if there's a choice, but my favorite news source does not allow free access" was another reason. But perhaps there is some interest in supporting and funding journalism as a result of all the fake news that's out there. And that may have driven a lot of people to select that top option.

We also asked about trustworthiness of news sources and trustworthiness of ads. Huge age-related disparity here, in terms of "very trustworthy," which was the top box selection in the survey. A minority of people across all age ranges and categories that think of the ads as being trustworthy. But it's interesting that younger consumers seem to be a bit more willing to call ads trustworthy versus older consumers who are much more jaded on the trustworthiness of ads, particularly on social media, where only 2% of those in the 55+ range said that those were very trustworthy.

And then this is the last side and I inserted it because I think it's important. It's kind of depressing to me personally, but we asked outright, if the news service were to add more racial diversity into its programming, both coverage and on air reporters, how likely is it that you would consider subscribing to it? And you can see the range is from "much more likely" to "much less likely." And there were younger consumers who were more likely than older consumers to say much more likely or more likely, but I was just surprised by the percentage of respondents that said less likely or much less likely.

So there are both age-driven and other segment-driven preferences for news.

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