The role of social media sites in breaking news and influencing readers has never been greater and few would disagree that it had a big part to play in the recent UK General Election.

It’s no secret that the print newspaper industry is struggling as paid news is on the decline – especially among younger audiences. Fake news has also hit the headlines in the last year as the vast reach of social media sites facilitates widespread distribution of uncorroborated stories in minutes. This month, UKOM looks at the significance of traditional news brands in the online lives of young audiences.

UKOM’s analysis of June Comscore data, shows that the mainstream media still has a huge role to play in bringing news and content to young adults online. In June 2017, a busy news month with the General Election, terrorist attacks and Grenfell Tower fire all dominating headlines, 18-24s were exposed to online content from a wide range of traditional news providers and journalists from across the spectrum of political persuasion.

 All 18-24s Online
June 2017 Reach %
All 18+ Online
June 2017 Reach %
The Sun Online 72.3 66.7
BBC News 71.1 77.3
MIRROR.CO.UK 61.9 54.1
Sky News 56.1 52.4
STANDARD.CO.UK 35.5 36.1
EXPRESS.CO.UK 35.4 28.6
THETIMES.CO.UK 19.8 15.1

Audience duplication analysis, shows us that in June 2017, 94.5% of 18-24s accessed content from either a major daily news title online, BBC news or Sky News online with 89% accessing content from more than one. Admittedly, with the rise of content sharing and distribution on social media, some of this content may be related to sport or celebrity gossip as some of the traditional news brands have strong appeal in these sub-categories.

However, if we look specifically at news channels* from the top 6 online newspapers, 84% of 18-24s accessed ‘news’ content in June 2017 with 33% viewing content from 2 or more. If we include BBC News and Sky News, that goes up to 90%, or 64% of 18-24s, accessing content from two or more traditional news brands online.

Whilst young people may not be buying newspapers as much as they once did, they also aren’t consuming news from just one publisher which they would have been more inclined to Insights do when they had to pay for a physical daily newspaper. In fact, the internet, aided by social media, offers exposure and easy access to news stories from multiple sources with contrasting opinion and analysis.

This can be illustrated by looking at duplication among 18-24s for the online news channels of two major newspapers with opposing political views: Mail Online - News and Mirror Online - News. In June 2017, these two brands reached 48% and 41% of 18-24s respectively. However, interestingly, 22% viewed online news content from BOTH of these publishers – somewhat higher than for older audiences (15% for 45+) and one would expect significantly higher than the proportion of 18-24s who in the past would have bought or read BOTH paper copies of these titles.

Notes on Data: All data is based on UKOM industry standard and development level approved Comscore MMX Multi-Platform & Comscore Mobile Metrix. Data is based on adults 18+ for June 2017. Comscore MMX Multi-Platform includes desktop browsing, desktop video streams, smartphone browsing & apps. tablet browsing & apps.

*Newspapers which have ‘news’ split out as separate channel in Comscore

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