More Americans Opt to Watch the News Versus Reading It

By: First Union | Date:

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More Americans Opt to Watch the News Versus Reading It

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While it's not surprising that Americans tend to prefer to watch the news over reading it, their channel of choice is a bit of a surprise. Television stills hold the top spot as far as where the people of this country choose to get their news from. Online platforms do run a close second, but TV is still the news go-to. From the end of July 2018 until the second week of August, the Pew Research Center surveyed just under 3500 Americans regarding their news viewing habits and subsequently where their loyalties lie.

It was discovered that approximately 47% of Americans prefer watching as opposed to reading the news or listening to it. There were 34% who picked reading and a mere 19% said listening to the news was their preference. From the last time such a survey was conducted (2016/) these numbers have changed little.

As mentioned, the survey also inquired as to what channels and mediums people preferred when it came to news consumption. The categories were print, TV, radio and the internet. 44% of those asked said that TV was their primary choice as far as news watching. 34% opted for the web, 14% said radio and a slim 7% said newspaper. Again, no real meaningful shifts were seen versus the survey conducted back in 2016.

The real revelations came when looking at the responses to the two questions together: preferred format be it reading, listening or watching, and preferred platform whether that was television, radio, internet or print. Given the plethora of online news channels and platforms currently available, it was a bit of surprise that those who did say the watch was how they preferred to consume the news, also said that television was their first choice. A whopping 75% picked watching the news on TV over watching it online—20% of respondents went with the internet at their first watching choice.

The web did win out when it came to reading preferences. 63% of those asked said that when they read the news they prefer to do so online over the 17% who said that print was their primary choice for reading news. When it comes to listening, the results break down as follows: 52% said radio, 21% answered TV and 20% of participants said the internet.

The internet's numbers are up slightly from 2016 when it comes to news watching

The numbers have changed a little bit since the first study in 2016. Television still leads the pack, but the internet's numbers are up to one in five adults who opt to watch their news, versus 12% back then. When it comes to readers and listeners, those numbers have held fairly steady in terms of the web. 59% who prefer to read the news did say they chose to do so online.

Younger adults were more apt to say that their news preference was digital

Not surprisingly, those adults under 50 years old who were surveyed did prefer the internet as their primary news platform regardless of format. Those over fifty fell into other categories by and large.

Of those polled, 75% between the ages of 18 and 49 and who'd identified reading as their preferred format did say that the web was where they read their news. In the over fifty categories though, only 43% said that they read their news online. Overall about three times as many 18 to 49-year-olds chose online across the board in terms of platform.

There was a jump in the number of fifty and older people who said that they'd go to the web first for news. This is up from 2016. But still lags behind the younger adults. Back in 2016, of the respondents who were over fifty, 49% had preferred print to the internet. Only 32% of readers chose the internet as their first choice platform for reading.

When considered in context with a decline in television news viewership, these findings do prove somewhat interesting. A September 2018 report suggests that there's only a six percent difference in terms of TV and the internet for news watching. However, according to this survey, television still has a stronghold as far as the news goes, especially with the older generations of Americans.

Here at First Union, we love to keep our viewers up to date with the news. If you are in need of business funding or advice, call today to speak to one of our agents!

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