The Proportion of the Audience Eager to Pay for News Remains Low Globally, According to the Digital News Report 2023

The 2023 Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute reveals that, even in the top 20 richest countries covered, only 17% of the audiences pay for the news they read online, which is the same figure as last year. Norway (39%) has the highest share of persons paying for news consumption, while Japan (9%) and the United Kingdom (9%) have the fewest readers. Most online users affirm they prefer reading rather than watching or listening to the news, and the way to access it is defined by the younger generation who prefer indirect ways over news websites.

According to the study, digital news consumers satisfied with the possibility to access news online for free and feeling increased pressure related to their household budgets are less eager to pay for the content they read. The basic reasons mentioned by those who canceled their media subscriptions last year are the cost of living and growing prices. For instance, according to the report, in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, approximately half of those who have no paid subscriptions say nothing would persuade them to pay for the news online. Lack of interest or prices they see as too expensive remain the greatest obstacles.

In addition, in all the countries covered by the report, most news consumers prefer reading rather than using audiovisual content. The authors explain that the text provides more speed and control for accessing information. Only in a few countries, such as the Philippines and Thailand, respondents mention they prefer videos. The study emphasizes, however, that watching news in video formats has been permanently increasing in various markets, and the majority of video content is currently being accessed via such third-party platforms as YouTube and Facebook.

The authors of the study affirm that younger users are less likely to go directly to a news website or app and more likely to use social media or other intermediate ways. The UK representative graph demonstrates that persons over 35 (the orange line) almost did not change their access preferences over time, whereas those aged 18-24 (the blue line) are becoming significantly less willing to use news websites or apps. The authors of the report provide the following explanation: “This represents an influx into our survey of more ‘social natives’ who grew up in the age of social and messaging apps, and seem to be displaying very different behaviours as a result.”

“The public is voting with its attention and money, and – despite the very real reservations over uneven trustworthiness, the risks of harassment and misinformation, and sometimes problematic business and data protection practices – they are overwhelmingly, everywhere, voting for digital media. That is the media environment the public embraces, and the ‘new normal’ where journalists and news media have to carve out their places if they want to connect with the public,” Professor Rasmus K. Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, affirms.

The 12th Digital News Report reveals new insights into news consumption on the basis of a YouGov survey of more than 93000 online information consumers in 46 markets, which accounts for half the world’s population.

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