US tablet survey found that browsers are more popular than apps for consuming news

Credit: By Drnantu on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

More than half of tablet users in the US consume news on the device every day, according to a report published today by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Economist Group.

The report found that consuming news was ranked "as one of the most popular activities on the tablet", consumed daily by 53 per cent of respondents who have a tablet. This was higher than social networking, gaming, reading books and watching films and videos.

It was beaten only by general browsing of the web which was a daily activity for 77 per cent of tablet owners.

The report is based on findings from a total of seven surveys carried out in the summer of this year by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. This included a general public survey and two surveys with a Pew Research Center panel made up of more than 1000 tablet users, following interviews with 40,000 US adults.

A total of 77 per cent of the tablet users were found to get news at least once a week on their device, with thirty per cent reporting that they spend more time consuming news now than they did before having a tablet, while 65 per cent spend the same amount of time.

However the report claims paying for content on the device "still appears to be a challenge". The survey found only 14 per cent of users have paid directly for news content on their tablets, while 23 per cent have a print subscription which includes digital access.

"Thus, the percent of these early tablet news users who have paid either directly or indirectly for news on their tablet may be closer to a third. That is a much higher number than previous research has found more broadly of people paying for digital content.

"Still, a large majority of those who have not paid directly for news on their tablet remains reluctant to do so, even if that was the only way to get news from their favourite sources."

In fact 83 per cent of those who have news apps on their tablet said the fact an app was free or at a low cost "was a major factor in their decision about what to download".

Today's report also produced further interesting results on the app market for tablets, finding that news consumed via browsers is actually the most popular means for respondents to access this information, despite two-thirds of tablet news users now having a news app on their device.

"A plurality of tablet news users (40 per cent) say they get their news mainly through a web browser. Another 31 per cent use news apps and the browser equally, while fewer, 21 per cent, get their news primarily through apps.  

"There may be reason for news organisations to continue to develop and promote their news apps, however. Those tablet news users who primarily use apps for news are the most avid consumers of news on tablets. They consume news more heavily, and in more different ways. They also report higher levels of enjoyment and learning from their news experience.

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