The next big thing

New study reveals that news consumption has gone mobile

The future of mobile news

New research released today by The Economist Group and the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism confirms that Americans are increasingly consuming news through their mobile devices. “The Future of Mobile News: The Explosion in Mobile Audience and a Close Look at What It Means for News” details the growing role that digital devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are playing in how we find and read the news.

Key findings from the study include:

America has crossed a threshold: 50 percent of US adults now own a tablet or smartphone. 

There has been a surge in tablet ownership: 22 percent of US adults now own a tablet device, twice the number from the previous year.   

Consuming news on a mobile device continues to be popular: 64 percent of tablet owners and 62 percent of smartphone owners say they use the devices for news at least weekly.

There’s growing evidence that digital devices are increasing total news consumption: 43 percent of respondents report that the news they get on their tablets and smartphones is adding to their overall news consumption.

New devices aren’t replacing the old, but instead creating a “multi-platform” consumer: 77 percent of tablet news readers also consume news on their computer and 50 percent still get news in print. 

Long-form reading is not dead: 73 percent of adults who consume news on their tablet report reading in-depth articles.

Getting people to pay for digital-only content remains a challenge: The number of people who have directly paid for news on their tablet is in the single digits – though many do pay for a print subscription that provides them with digital access.

Mobile ads may be more effective than other digital display ads: 15 percent of mobile news users click on ads and about 7 percent actually make a purchase. These figures are much higher than standard online click-thru rates.

Over the next few weeks, the Lean Back 2.0 blog will explore many of these key trends in digital news consumption. Tomorrow we’ll examine how the availability of cheaper tablet models has led to a marked increased in tablet ownership – and what this means for how we get the news. If there are specific topics from the research that you would like us to examine, please let us know in the space below. And as always, if you have insights on the changing digital news landscape, we would love to hear from you.  

For more key charts, please click here.