Newspapers' Digital Audience At Record High, Mobile-Only Readers Soar

Newspapers continue to make big strides online, with the combined digital audience for U.S. newspapers reaching a record 173 million in January 2015, according to comScore data cited by the Newspaper Association of America. That figure is the highest ever, up 19% from 146 million in January 2014, and 4.8% from 165 million in December 2014.

The latest figure represents 82% of the total U.S. adult online population in January 2015. Furthermore, newspapers’ digital content reached 91% of U.S. adult women ages 25-34, and the same proportion of U.S. adult men ages 35-44.

The comScore data revealed a big increase in the proportion of Americans who consume digital newspaper content exclusively on mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, rather than desktops and laptops. The number of mobile-only consumers jumped 73% from 39.3 million adult unique visitors in January 2014 to over 68 million in January 2015, representing a proportional increase from 27% to 39% of the total newspaper digital audience.

By contrast, just 32% of the newspaper digital audience only used desktops or laptops to access newspaper content in January 2015, down from 41% in January 2014. Meanwhile, 28% used devices from both categories in January 2015, down from 32% a year before.

Within the mobile-only group, the fastest growth in proportional terms came among young women ages 18-24, as this subset soared 155% from 3.2 million to 8.2 million over this period. Not far behind were men ages 34-44, with the number of mobile users in this demo up 122%.

Despite this rapid growth, digital advertising revenues remain a fairly small part of the newspaper business. In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, total digital ad revenues came to $3.42 billion, or around 14.5% of total ad revenues of $23.6 billion. Conversely, digital subscriptions helped power a 3.7% gain in circulation revenues, to $10.9 billion in 2013.

The NAA stopped publishing quarterly reports on newspaper revenues last year.

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1 comment about "Newspapers' Digital Audience At Record High, Mobile-Only Readers Soar".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, March 9, 2015 at 8:26 a.m.

    Almost 100% of the audience yet only 14.5% of the ad revenue. What's wrong with this picture?