How much of a boost to overall readership do UK newsbrands see from mobile-only readers? If the latest National Readership Survey results are anything to go by, it’s negligible, and the real boost to readership that comes from a digital source is all from audience members who use both PC and mobile.
The average monthly readership results for 2014 – which include mobile and tablet estimates for only the third time – demonstrate how a sample of UK newspaper readers consume their news both by brand and platform. As noted in the release, 93 percent of the population in Britain are estimated to consume news across print, PC and mobile, so the breakdown of how that consumption is occurring is a good snapshot of how people believe that consume news.
The following chart demonstrates how many survey respondees consider themselves to only consume news by print, PC or mobile and tablet.
As a result, the proportion of those who consume exclusively by different platforms for those papers looks like this:
Unsurprisingly the newsbrands which have chosen to put paywalls up around their digital content see a much larger proportion of print-only readers than they do via either of the other methods. Though that’s obviously a result of the nature of the survey, it’s worth noting that a relatively small number of those who read the Sun or The Times consider themselves exclusively mobile or PC consumers, suggesting that even people who pay to get behind those paywalls still pick up the print product.
But, of course, the news consumption habits of people in 2015 are rarely limited to exclusively one platform, with many getting their news on different platforms depending on their situation at the time. Expanding the survey results to include those who read on mobile, print and PC non-exclusively demonstrates how much mobile readership is actually worth:
That’s made a huge change to the overall proportion of people who get news on mobile at least some of the time, and demonstrates that some industry commentators’ newfound interest in context is well founded – platform infidelity is the default state for a huge amount of the British public.
But while the Daily Mirror, Indepedent, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Guardian are benefiting from that, the correlation between the percentage of mobile readership and overall total readership is weak at best, suggesting that a large proportion of mobile readership is far from the be all and end all for newsbrands:
The quarterly NRS PADD results, then, show that the British public is largely platform agnostic, choosing to get their news from a variety of different sources rather than sticking to one or the other. The challenge facing publishers is ensuring that their articles work across all the platforms so that an audience can discover and consume it equally successfully regardless of their location and context.