According to the Digital News Report 2013, commissioned by the Reuters Institute, this has risen from four to nine per cent.
The report, which is based on the results of an online questionnaire by YouGov, added that across the nine countries taking part in the study, (the UK, Germany, Spain Italy, France, Denmark, the US, Brazil and Japan), just five per cent of the respondents said they had paid for news on a digital platform in the past week, compared to the 50 per cent who had purchased a newspaper in print.
According to the study, "this is partly because the majority of online newspapers still do not charge for news – although that is changing rapidly with the erection of paywalls, combined subscriptions, and app-based purchases."
The UK actually had the lowest percentage of respondents who have paid for news on a digital platform in the past year. It was narrowly beaten by Denmark with 10 per cent, Germany with 11 per cent, the US with 12 per cent and France with 13 per cent.
The number of people paying for digital news was much higher in Italy, where 21 per cent had done so in the past year, and highest in urban Brazil with 24 per cent. Urban Brazil also recorded the highest number of people indicating they were "very likely or somewhat likely" to do so in the future, at 58 per cent.
According to the report, "Italy and Spain’s figures are largely driven by one-off payments for apps and articles while the US and Denmark statistics are more fuelled by ongoing digital subscription".
Use of tablets
The report also found that the number of people in the UK accessing online news via tablet devices has doubled in the past ten months.
The study found that 16 per cent of respondents in the UK indicated they had used a tablet device in the past week to consume news, compared to eight per cent last year.
Staying in the mobile space, smartphones had been used by 29 per cent and e-readers by just two per cent. The leading platform was the computer with 67 per cent.
Denmark recorded the highest percentage of smartphone use to access news online, with 43 per cent, as well as for tablets, where a quarter of respondents said they had used a tablet device in the past week to access news.
"While the computer remains the primary device for accessing digital news, the key underlying trend is about growth in access from multiple devices," the report adds.
"One-third of our entire global sample now gets news on at least two devices and 9 per cent use more than three".
Looking at news in general, television, followed closely by online were identified as the "most important" sources for respondents across all nine countries.
In the UK just over 40 per cent of respondents named television as the "most important" or "main" source of news, followed by online with 35 per cent. Print came third with 15 per cent, with radio a top source for seven per cent of respondents.
Television led in five out of nine countries, while online was named the top source in four countries: Spain, Italy, urban Brazil and Japan.
Respondents in urban Brazil gave the highest percentage to online, with 53 per cent naming it their top source for news.
The report highlights that this "picture changes when we look at the importance assigned by different age groups". The study found, for example, that those under 35 "prefer online" while looking at respondents over 45 resulted in a preference for television.
It is also worth noting that the results were based on an online questionnaire, and therefore, as the study itself states, "the results will under-represent the consumption habits of people who are not online (typically older, less affluent, and with limited formal education)."
But, it adds, "going forward, these issues will become less of a factor as online penetration grows".
As well as looking at where users accessed news, the study also addressed how users interact with content.
The report found that respondents in Brazil are more likely to engage in commentary on news events on social media, with 38 per cent stating they would do so in an average week, followed by 27 per cent in Spain, 26 per cent in Italy and 21 per cent in the US.
In the UK 10 per cent of respondents comment on social media in an average week. When it comes to social sharing of news, 18 per cent were said to have "shared a news story in the last week by email or social network".
Discovery of content
The way people discover news varied from country to country. According to the study "search engines are the most important gateway" for respondents in France and Germany, said to be "used about twice as often as in the UK".
In comparison respondents in urban Brazil and Spain placed social media as its top discovery channel, while those in Japan said they "are more likely to get news from aggregators and portals, followed by search".
New storytelling formats
Another interesting area of the study looked at the growth of new media formats.
"We find that digital news is gradually moving away from the article and picture format that has dominated for almost 20 years," the report says of the countries covered in the study. "Short video clips and the streaming of live news TV or radio coverage are becoming more popular."
In the UK, 47 per cent of respondents said they use some form of audio or video to consume news on an average week.
When it comes to the use of live blogs to offer real-time coverage Japan is out in front with 35 per cent of respondents stating they liveblog "at least once a week".
Nic Newman, the author of the study, offers his views on the report in a guest article on Journalism.co.uk.