The Tablet Revolution: What it Means for the Future of News
A new study by PEJ and The Economist Group details who tablet users are, how they get news.
11% of U.S. adults now own a tablet computer of some kind. About half (53%) get news on their tablet every day, and they read long articles as well as get headlines. But a majority says they would not be willing to pay for news content on these devices, according to the most detailed study to date of tablet users and how they interact with this new technology.
The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group, finds that the vast majority of tablet owners-fully 77%-use their tablet every day. They spend an average of about 90 minutes on them.
Consuming news (everything from the latest headlines to in-depth articles and commentary) ranks as one of the most popular activities on the tablet, about as popular as sending and receiving email (54% email daily on their tablet), and more popular than social networking (39%), gaming (30%), reading books (17%) or watching movies and videos (13%). The only activity that people said they were more likely to do on their tablet computer daily is browse the web generally (67%).
The survey also finds that three-in-ten tablet news users (defined for this study as the 77% of all tablet users who get news at least weekly) say they now spend more time getting news than they did before they had their tablet. Just 4% say they spend less time while two-thirds (65%) spend about the same amount of time.
A third (33%) of tablet news users say they are turning to new sources for news on their tablet, sources they had not turned to on other platforms such as television or their desktop computer. And, more than four in ten (42%) say they regularly read in-depth news articles and analysis on their tablet.
Tablet news users also say they now prefer their new devices over traditional computers, print publications or television as a way both to get quick news headlines and to read long-form pieces.
Whether people will pay for content, though, still appears to be a challenge, even on the tablet. Just 14% of these tablet news users have paid directly for news content on their tablets. Another 23%, though, have a subscription to a print newspaper or magazine that they say 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 favorite sources.
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