Readers abandon print for digital platforms but it’s a slow revolution

Consumers are abandoning print newspapers for tablet editions and reading on their smartphones but there hasn’t been a mass shift to reading magazines on the devices, says The Media Briefing.

That’s the message from the Newspapers and Magazines section of Deloitte’s 2013 Consumer Media Survey, which contains a wealth of stats on consumer attitudes to media.

Print plummets: 39 per cent of newspaper reading respondents said print was their favourite format for reading their chosen titles, down massively from 75 per cent just a year ago. It’s difficult not to make a connection between that fall and the rapid adoption of tablet PCs over the same period.

  • But digital soars: Laptops and desktops still account for most  news consumption online, but mobile is gaining. Of smartphone users, 32 per cent say they use their device to read news articles every day or at least once a week, and that figure rises to more than half for tablet owners.

It’s clear tablets and smartphones are having a big impact on how users access news content, but will it save newspapers? The report gives a very equivocal answer:

“There is limited data on whether the cost of investment required to compete online is justified by the revenue it will generate. It is early days for this medium, so the challenge now is how to deliver news to younger, multi-platform audience without alienating their loyal older customers.”

In contrast, the transition to digital is happening far slower for magazines,

  • Print preference: 75 percent still said they prefer to read magazines in print, down significantly, but not hugely, from 88 percent a year ago.
  • Digital doubts: Just 18 percent of tablet owners and 8 percent of smartphone owners said they used their device to access magazine content daily or at least once a week.

Deloitte says the lack of take up of magazines on tablets, a format they are seemingly well suited to, could be due to less takeup of tablets among magazine readers, or the a lack of optimisation of magazine content for the devices.

Of course that would be fine if it weren’t for the fact print circulation is declining fast.

Within the magazine sector, Deloitte points out that Women’s titles have been the slowest to move to digital formats, while cooking and technology  titles have been faster. Considering the closure of more! this week and the overall decline of the Women’s market – perhaps that’s a mistake.  

Deloitte’s survey throws up one  point which disagrees with our more! analysis – it says half of respondents said availability of gossip sites did not affect their propensity to buy a women’s magazine, suggesting instead that people are dropping magazines as an unneccesary luxury during the recession.

Read the rest of this article at The Media Briefing.

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