Tablet owners still won't pay to read the news

While people like to read the news on tablets, most are still hesitant to pay for the privilege, a new study says.

Pew Research

More than half of all tablet users consume the news on a daily basis, but most are still unwilling to pay for it.

A study commissioned by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Economist Group found that around 77 percent of tablet owners use their devices each day, spending an average of around 90 minutes in total.

Reading the daily news turned out to be the third-most popular use of tablets; 53 percent of those polled said they read the news daily. The only more popular activities were browsing the Web (which 67 percent do daily) and using e-mail (54 percent). Tapping into social networking sites trailed at 39 percent.

Looking more closely at the online news junkies, around 33 percent of them said they spend more time getting news then they did before they bought their tablets. The same percentage said they're finding new sources for news on their tablets, ones they never accessed on their TVs or even PCs. And 42 percent of them said they regularly read in-depth news articles and analyses via their tablets.

How do people access the news on their tablets?

Even though around two-thirds of tablet news users have a dedicated news app on their device, 40 percent said they still grab the news through their Web browsers. Another 31 percent use both apps and the browser, while only 21 percent use apps as their main source.

Though catching the news is clearly popular, most of those polled still won't pay for it.

Only 14 percent of those who grab the news through their tablets said they've paid for such content. Another 23 percent said they've subscribed to a print newspaper or magazine that includes digital access.

Adding up those percentages indicates that more a third of tablet news consumers may be paying either directly or indirectly for digital access. Though that's a higher number than Pew found in previous studies, it still means the majority of users are sticking with only the news that's free.

Conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates during the summer and early fall, the study combined the results of several separate polls. The first poll surveyed the general public, while the next two interviewed a Pew Research Center panel of more than 1,000 tablet owners. A phone survey reached 1,159 tablet users and 894 tablet news users, and a web-based survey asked news users about their news habits over the prior seven days.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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