News

Fewer people getting news from social media, says Ofcom news consumption report

Posted on: August 17, 2020 by Mariella Brown

Fewer people are choosing to get their news from social media compared to a year ago, Ofcom’s annual news consumption report shows.

The proportion of UK adults using social media to keep up with the latest stories has fallen from 49% last year to 45% in 2020 with users rating social platforms less highly for trust and accuracy.

In contrast nearly half of adults get news from either print newspapers or their associated websites and apps (47%), data collected from November 2019 to March 2020 highlights.

The 2020 report shows TV remains the most popular platform for accessing news for 75% of adults, with BBC One remaining the most popular news source overall.

The News consumption in the UK 2019/20 study by Ofcom looks at how adults and older children (aged 12-15) in the UK consume news across television, radio, print, social media, podcasts, other internet sources and magazines. The report did not explore news consumption during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Findings by sector

TV News

  • Three-quarters of UK adults consume news via television, with TV news receiving the highest satisfaction rating (76%) for quality out of all media.  
  • BBC One remains the most-used channel for news (by 75% of TV news viewers), followed by ITV (55%). Use of Sky News has increased this year amongst those who watch TV for news and it is now the third most watched TV channel for news (31%).
  • Forty-two per cent of UK adults who follow news say they watch regional broadcasts on BBC TV and 32% watch ITV/ITV WALES/UTV/STV.
    • Four in five of these viewers are satisfied with the quality of news that these regional channels provide, the report shows.

Newspapers

  • Print newspapers saw a decline in adults using the medium for news from 2019 to 2020 (a decrease from 38% in 2019 to 35% in 2020).
  • Combining use of print newspapers and newspaper websites/apps brings the overall use of newspapers for news up to 47% of adults in 2020.
  • The results showed that 56% of over 65s use newspapers as a source of news compared to just one in five 16-24 year olds; the largest gap amongst the age demographics.
  • Among the third (35%) of adults who claim to consume news through print newspapers, the Daily Mail remains the most-used daily title followed by The Metro and The Sun.
  • The Metro saw its figures increase by five per cent on 2019. A quarter of adults who claim to consume news through daily newspapers cited reading The Metro.
    • However, these findings were established pre-coronavirus lockdown; the Metro has seen its circulation drop to a quarter of its usual levels during the pandemic.
  • The Mail on Sunday remains the most read Sunday title (21%), followed by The Sun on Sunday (14%) and The Sunday Times (9%) for those who say they use Sunday newspaper for news nowadays.
  • The survey showed that the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday is the most widely-read news title overall with 36% of newspaper readers citing them as news sources. The Guardian/Observer and Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday are the most widely-read digital titles.
  • Local newspapers came fourth with 19% of newspaper readers picking up local titles or reading them online.

Online news

  • Online news users remain more likely to go directly to the websites/apps of a news provider than via a search engine or a news aggregator, with 57% stating they do this.

News podcasts

Ofcom’s survey also included new research for 2020 exploring the news podcast market which has seen a rise in news organisations exploring the medium – from the launch of Laudable regional podcasts to Tortoise’s Slow Newscast.

  • Just over one in twenty (6%) adults claim to consume news via podcasts nowadays. Of these, one third claim to use YouTube, with around a quarter using BBC Sounds and Spotify and a fifth using Apple podcasts.

Local news

  • TV remains the most used platform for accessing local news, with 42% of adults choosing regional/ local broadcasts on BBC TV.
  • Over one in five news users turn to printed local or regional newspapers (21%). They report a higher level of satisfaction (80%) with the quality of the local news provided by papers than those using social media.
  • The satisfaction rating of adults who follow social media for local news fell from 73% in 2019 to 68% in 2020.

12-15 year olds

  • As in 2019, just under six in ten 12-15s claim to be either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ interested in news.
  • Among the four in ten (42%) who are not interested in the news, the main reason is it is ‘too boring’ (42%).
  • When asked how often they read, watch or listen to or follow news, three quarters (77%) of 12-15s said they do so at least once a week.
  • Talking with family and the TV continue to be the most common ways to find out about the news; 80% of 12-15s said the news from family was either ‘always’ or mostly’ accurate.
  • Forty-one per cent of 12-15s who use social media for news claim they always/often think about whether the stories they see there are accurate.

About the report

Ofcom’s annual news consumption report shows figures for 2019/20 and does not include the coronavirus lockdown period.

In total, 2,066 face-to-face and 2,510 online interviews were carried out during 2019/20.

The interviews were conducted over two waves (9 November – 8 December and 24 February –  30 March) in order to achieve a robust and representative view of UK adults, Ofcom says. 

Download the report in full here.