IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Tablet users don't want to pay for news on device

Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Economist Group

About 11 percent of U.S. adults now own a tablet, and more than half of them are reading news on them every day from traditional sources, like The New York Times or CNN.

Despite their interest, however, most say they're not willing to pay for news on their tablets, according to a new study, "The Tablet Revolution and What it Means for the Future of News," by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group.

Reading and watching the news is one of the "most popular activities on the tablet, about as popular as sending and receiving email (54 percent email daily on their tablet), and more popular than social networking (39 percent), gaming (30 percent), reading books (17 percent) or watching movies and videos (13 percent)," Pew and The Economist Group said.

Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Economist Group

The only tablet activity that's done more on a daily basis is general Web surfing (67 percent).

Tablet users are also getting to know their devices; 77 percent say they use their tablets every day and spend an average of about 90 minutes on them.

"Whether people will pay for content, though, still appears to be in question, even on the tablet," the study found.

"Just 14 percent of these tablet news users have paid directly for news content on their tablets. Another 23 percent, 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."

However, "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."

Among them, 21 percent say they'd be willing to spend $5 a month for news content; 10 percent would pay $10 a month.

Rupert Murdoch's newspaper, The Daily, created especially for Apple's iPad and launched earlier this year, has had mixed results so far. The Daily has 120,000 "active weekly readers, 80,000 of whom are actually paying for the app, according to Publisher Greg Clayman," reported Ad Age Digital recently.

"The bigger number includes 40,000 non-paying readers on a two-week introductory trial period," Ad Age said. About 15 percent of those wind up subscribing, the publisher said.

The Pew and Economist Group report is based on seven surveys of adults age 18 and older done over the summer, including nearly 1,200 tablet users and nearly 900 tablet news users.

Here are some other major findings about tablet news users:

  • Three in 10 say they spend more time now "getting news" than they did before they got their tablets.
  • A third say they're turning to new sources for news, "sources they had not turned to on other platforms such as television or their desktop computer. And, more than four in ten (42 percent) say they regularly read in-depth news articles and analysis on their tablet."
  • They now prefer tablets over "traditional computers, print publications or TV as a way both to get quick news headlines and to read long-form pieces." Such substitution is "already occurring to large degrees. Fully 90 percent of tablet news users now consume news on the tablet that they used to get access in other ways. The greatest substitution is occurring with news that people used to get from their desktop computer. (See chart above.)
  • Eight in 10 say they now get news on the tablet that they used to get online from their laptop or desktop computer. "Fewer respondents, although still a majority, say the tablet takes the place of what they used to get from a print newspaper or magazine (59 percent) or as a substitute for television news (57 percent).
  • While about two-thirds have a news "app" on their tablet, using a Web browser "is still the more popular means of consuming news. A plurality of tablet news users (40 percent) say they get their news mainly through a Web browser. Another 31 percent use news apps and the browser equally, while fewer, 21 percent, get their news primarily through apps."

Among all tablet owners, half say the tablet is "more of a household device to share" than a "strictly personal one." And, Pew and The Economist Group Forum noted that the iPad "still dominates the market," with 81 percent of the tablet users surveyed saying they have Apple's tablet.

Related stories:

Check out Technolog, Gadgetbox, Digital Life and In-Game on Facebook, and on Twitter, follow Suzanne Choney.