Digital Publishing
2 mins read

News consumption on mobile grows 300%, in just 5 years

Pew Research Center just released a factsheet on the use of mobile devices for news. According to the survey, mobile devices have become one of the most common ways Americans get news, outpacing desktop or laptop computers.

Almost six-in-ten U.S. adults (58%) get their news on a mobile device, 19 percentage points higher than the 39% who mostly get news on a desktop or laptop computer.

“The share of Americans who often get news on a mobile device is nearly triple the 21% who did so in 2013,” the survey found. “At the same time, the portion of Americans who often get news on a desktop has remained relatively stable, with 39% of adults often getting news on a desktop or laptop computer, up just 4 percentage points from 2013.”

This increase in the number of people who consume news via mobile devices is important for publishers to bear in mind. Most professionals tend to work from laptop and desktop computers, and are less familiar with how their work looks for users accessing it through mobile devices.

“It’s not enough for news sites to be ‘mobile compatible’ or ‘mobile friendly,’” the American Press Institute notes in its Better News project. “They must be mobile-oriented.”

A few years ago, the New York Times temporarily blocked access to their website on desktop computers at its headquarters, to give “desk jockeys” at the NY Times a lesson on the importance of mobile.

“More than half of our traffic to The Times is on mobile,” Times editors wrote in a memo to staff. “We’re hopeful that this temporary change will help spur us to make mobile an even more central part of everything that we do.”

Interestingly, the growth in mobile news consumption has been primarily driven by older adults, and the sharpest growth has been among Americans ages 50 and older. Nevertheless, younger adults still outpace their elders in news consumption. Pew also offers up some interesting stats about who’s most likely to get news from mobile:

“About seven-in-ten adults ages 18 to 29 (71%) often get news on a mobile device, compared with 37% of those ages 65 or older,” report Sophia Fedeli and Katerina Eva Matsa from the department of journalism research at Pew Research Center.

“Moreover, those 65 and older are still more likely to often get news on a desktop than on a mobile device (47% compared with 37%, respectively). This is the only age group more likely to get news on a desktop or laptop computer than on a mobile device.”

Medium of news consumption also depends on level of education and income, as per the survey. People with more formal education and higher incomes are more likely to get news on both mobile and desktop or laptop.

Those with a college degree are more likely to often get news on mobile than those without a college degree (66% vs. 51%). Also, men are more likely than women to get news on both mobile (60% vs. 56%) and desktop.

Note: The survey was conducted through Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults. The full topline results of the survey are available for download here.