McKinsey Survey: Some Hope for Newspapers in Greater News Consumption by Young

By: Mark Fitzgerald

A new survey of news consumption in Britain should comfort newspaper publishers everywhere, according to McKinsey & Co. Adults under the age of 35 have significantly increased their consumption of news in the past three years — and they profess a growing interest in getting news from print newspapers.

The McKinsey survey, reported by Philipp M. Nattermann of the consulting firm’s London media and entertainment practice, says average daily news consumption in the U.K. increased to 72 minutes from 60 minutes three years ago — “an increase driven almost entirely by people under the age of 35.”

There’s also more urgency to get the news first in this group, McKinsey found, with about 40% saying they needed to be the first to hear breaking news. This need for immediacy is reflected in younger news consumers’ choice of media: they overwhelmingly prefer to get their news from television and the Internet,” the report says.

But newspapers remain the most trusted medium, with 66% of respondents describing the paper as “informative and confidence inspiring.” That compares with 44% for television and just 12% for the Web.

“This suggests that newspapers have further scope to go beyond news, to drive reader interest and advertising revenues at the same time,” Nattermann writes.

And “interest” in getting news from newspapers has grown, the survey found. Among people aged 16 to 24, interest in newspaper news grew to 64% from 53% in a 2006 survey. In the 25-34 cohort, interest grew to 61% from 51%.

There is an on-the-other-hand, though. This survey finds what countless others have: Little enthusiasm for paying for newspaper online content.

“We found that while there is modest potential to increase online revenues, they will be insufficient to compensate for the decline of print,” the report says. “Indeed, even in a hypothetical scenario where online-only versions of existing newspapers and magazines cost 75% less than the print versions, only 14% of news consumers said they would pay for the online content.”

McKinsey’s advice is for newspapers to use that trust factor to find revenue in transactions.

“The combination of editorial content, ads, and selected commercial offers — while clearly separated — benefits advertisers and is of practical use to readers,” the report says.

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