TV, Digital News Consumers Register Skepticism, Which May Be A Good Thing

Are we tiring of little news coming from our favorite places? Maybe we are not convinced of the veracity of the content. Perhaps we’ll check in a bit less every now and then.

Pew Research Center July/August 2021 studysays 51% of consumers now get their news content “often” via digital devices. This is down from around the same period a year ago (August/September), which was at 60%.

Likewise, TV stations and networks went in the same direction: 36% of consumers said they got their news “often” from TV in 2021, down from 40% in 2020.

What went up was respondents in the survey who shifted their news consumption to a “sometimes” description. This was higher for both TV and digital -- TV going to 32% (from 28%); digital devices moved to 33% (from 26%).

Overall, we might believe digital devices and digital news sites -- essentially digital anything -- are moving ever higher in terms of consumption. Surprise! Some popular digital news sites are recording lower usage.



Recent results from ComScore MediaMetrix show with an October 2020 decline of 48% to 23.2 million visitors (from 44.7 million). sank 44.5% to 19.1 million (from 34.3 million).

More sites are sinking: The, and each lost 30%. The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Vice Media all dropped more than 20%.

Pew also asked what devices consumers “prefer” — which remained fairly stable year to year. Digital devices earned a 50% preference score, TV saw a 36% number.

Why the low TV number? In part, it might be those comparisons to a year ago -- the presidential election, the COVID-19 pandemic period. One might also guess it has to do with changing demographics: Young digitally focused media consumers versus older traditional TV users.

These findings must be concerning to TV news executives -- not just the large declines among traditional TV news networks, but especially for local TV stations newscasts -- even as local TV stations are doing their best to extend their news content to digital platforms.

But what about the micro-trends -- questions about factual accuracy, raised over the last few years, of traditional news platforms and many digital news sites?

Will future news consumers -- of every demographic -- be more discerning and circumspect when it comes to news content? And if so, what business outcome will result?

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