Those in media love to make bold predictions about what the future holds for the industry, particularly about what’s on its way out and what we should watch out for. First, it was the death of print. The rise of the internet was going to lead to a rapid demise of print publications. Now, with the growth in the tablet market, there have been assertions that the days of the desktop computer are waning. However, a new report from Pew and The Economist Group challenges these notions. News readers aren’t necessarily turning away from one platform, but instead morphing into “multi-platform” consumers.
“We think new devices will replace old ones, but users actually find time in the day to add one more device”, Denise Warren, general manager at NYTimes.com, remarked at our recent Advertising Week session announcing the study’s results.
Take tablet news users, for instance. 54 percent of tablet news consumers also read news on their smartphones, 50 percent read news in print and a whopping 77 percent get news on their desktop. What’s more, almost a quarter of tablet news readers get news on all four devices (though presumably not all at the same time).
These numbers suggest that the desktop remains an enduringly popular platform for reading news. In fact, when asked to rank which device they preferred for news consumption, 41 percent of mobile news users said the desktop. The tablet came in second at 25 percent, followed by print. The smartphone ranked last.
Given how many hours a day most of us spend toiling away in front of a desktop, it’s perhaps not surprising that the device still plays a crucial role in news consumption. After work, however, tablet usage increases sharply. The most popular time of day for tablet news consumption is from 5 pm to 9 pm, reinforcing the idea that the tablet is a lean-back device well suited for in-depth and leisurely reading.
Moreover, for many of us, the proliferation of new devices is actually adding to news consumption. Tablets and smartphones aren’t distracting people from the news, but instead giving many of us more ways to access news. In fact, the findings show that users who read news on multiple devices spend more time with news overall.
The evidence suggests that there is the opportunity for publishers to reach an even larger audience; but in order to do so, publications must be available on multiple platforms. News consumers want to be able to listen to podcasts on their commute, check headlines on their desktop at work, read long-form articles on their tablet at night and relax with a print magazine on the weekends. Creating these multi-platform experiences is expensive and time-consuming, but the pay-off may ultimately be an engaged, well-informed news consumer.
Tags: desktop, news, publishing, tablets