Journalism.org released a new report today that was designed to cram as many random percentage statistics into the first four paragraphs as possible in order to distract the reader so that it could sneakily steal his/her identity. Actually it looked at how people use devices like the iPad with particular focus on how they consume news. The report takes about 10,000 words to essentially come up with the conclusion that the news business is still kind of screwed. Highlights after the jump.
First some core stats. The report revealed that 53% of people consume news on a tablet every day. Hmm. That means that 47% don’t which is the same number of people who don’t pay ANY TAXES at all and who are clearly grinding this country into the dust with their low-income, tax-dodging, don’t-have-enough-money-for-food-but-why-the-hell-shouldn’t-they-pay-taxes ways. So clearly we are being destroyed by penniless, unemployed tax cheats who are ignorant about their own un-patriotic ways because they refuse to read any news.
Next-up is the revelation that 42% of tablet users read in-depth articles on their device. Not too surprising since – as I pointed out in a previous post – the iPad was designed for media consumption and will never (at least not yet) truly replace the laptop. It’s a great reading device and if people **weren’t** consuming long-form content on it then that would be a surprise.
So far so good. Take THAT news industry doomsday-mongers.
But here’s where things start to go a little bit pear shaped. In another blow to the bizarre “The Web Is Dead” crowd, 40 per cent of tablet users consume news content through – shock horror – that old, lifeless, musty, crappy, so-yesterday piece of digital poison known as the browser. Remember that? The browser? That….that thing that was supposed to die-out and be replaced by shiny, glossy apps. Well guess what app-heads? Only 21 per cent of tablet users consume news through an app. Significant, but not significant enough to justify hysterical screams that the era of the browser is over.
But the killer stat is this. Only 14% of users have actually paid for news content on their tablet and – more alarmingly – only 21% say they would be willing to spend $5 per month if it was only way they could access their favorite content. So even if all the aggregators, and curators and other free sources of news disappeared – just 1 in 5 people would be open to springing for online news.
This last stat is particularly telling and speaks to just how much news has become commoditized. Users clearly have no particular loyalty to where they get their news content from. Reporting of news has become so homogenized and so cookie-cutter that for most consumers the source really isn’t that important anymore. There are two ways to arrest this decline. The first is to launch a news product that has such a unique and interesting news agenda that it creates clear white space between itself and the rest of the market. That would likely attract a smaller, niche but loyal audience which sadly – in this era of giant corporate governance – would likely be too small to be of interest to many companies. The second is to take the Fox News approach of turning news into politically driven entertainment. This can be fine and very profitable, but it’s not news.
So while people are clearly using tablets they still haven’t quite gotten around to the idea of paying for content on them. First person to come up with a clever idea for how to save the news business wins a year’s subscription to The Spinning Hamster iPad app – ordinarily priced at $14.99 per month 😉