Study: iPad news apps will hurt newspaper print subscriptions

December 9th, 2010 by Chris Hogg Leave a reply »

Photo by Harry Phillips

According to a new report from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, more than 50 percent of print newspaper subscribers who use their iPad at least an hour a day for news are likely to cancel their print subscriptions over the next six months.

Furthermore, nearly 31 percent of iPad users surveyed said they don’t subscribe to printed newspapers and 10 percent indicated they already cancelled their print subscriptions and switched to reading digital versions on the iPad.

The report is the first phase of a multi-year research project to understand how Apple iPad users consume news content. The data was collected based on the responses gathered from more than 1,600 iPad users.

Among the findings, respondents who read at least an hour’s worth of news on their iPads every day — more than 90 percent of everyone surveyd — are either very likely or somewhat likely to use a newspaper’s app for reading news. Even among light news readers, the study indicated apps are the preferred method of delivery for news consumers over websites.

“These findings are encouraging for newspaper publishers who plan to begin charging for subscriptions on their iPad app editions early next year, but our survey also found a potential downside: iPad news apps may diminish newspaper print subscriptions in 2011,” Roger Fidler, RJI’s program director for digital publishing and the research project leader, said in a statement.

In total, the survey found three-quarters of respondents consume news for at least 30 minutes on their iPad, with nearly half saying they do so for an hour or more. iPad users are typically more male, well-educated, affluent and between the ages of 35 and 64.

According to the report, the iPad also encourages other news consumption, as the study found the more a person uses an iPad to consume news, the more he or she is likely to use other digital media to consume news.

When it comes to overall experience consuming news on an iPad, respondents were asked to rate their reading experience on the iPad compared to other media on a five-point scale. Respondents said iPad reading experiences were somewhat better than, or about the same, as experiences reading printed newspapers or magazines.

A total of 48.1 percent said the iPad news experience was better than the iPhone’s.

Age also plays a role in iPad experience, as older users tend to say the device is worse than the traditional newspaper-reading experience. Older users, however, said the iPad was better than other electronic devices with smaller screens for news consumption.

The study noted iPad users would be more likely to buy newspaper apps for “a price lower than the price of a print subscription.” Reliability and ease-of-use were also important among iPad users.

So which news organizations have the highest-rated news apps? According to this survey, the most popular responses were: The New York Times, USA Today, The Associated Press, and The Wall Street Journal.

More details on this report can be found here.

[Cross-posted to Future of Media]

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