Newspaper websites now more popular than hard-copy versions

7 Jun 2012

A BBC study that reveals Irish people’s appetite for digital news consumption reveals that newspaper websites are now more popular than their hard-copy counterparts.

The results, though revealing, are unsurprising. Word on the street is newspapers are ruing the fact many smartphone users are snacking on news information via their gadgets. A 22-year-old I spoke to recently has yet to buy her first newspaper.

The study, conducted by independent research agency Sponge It, reveals a huge appetite for digital news consumption amongst people in Ireland. The survey polled 828 people throughout Ireland and was conducted in January this year.

Newspaper websites (59.9pc) now beat their hard-copy equivalents (57.4pc) as a source for news and current affairs. TV, however, still dominates as the main source of news at 63pc, with breaking news and sports the main drivers of content consumption for respondents.  

The results will be unveiled today (Thursday) at an event in Dublin by BBC Worldwide and, the BBC’s advertising sales representative in Ireland.

With regards to the frequency of news consumption, online platforms are in the driving seat.

To keep up with news and current affairs, 54pc use smartphone apps more than a couple of times a day followed by newspaper websites at 42pc, and TV websites also at 42pc. This compares to 33pc for TV sets and 11pc for newspapers.

As to where media is consumed, newspapers are popular in the home (99pc) or at work (42pc) with radio taking much more prominence while travelling (45pc).

Portable audio devices follow a similar trend but can also be associated with down time (28pc). Smartphones are the device most diffusively used at all occasions in the day.

“Today’s results are a great indication that news consumption in Ireland is in robust health, and that consumers appreciate the traditional print outlets for news, as well as the new digital platforms,” said Isla McLeod, digital sales director, EMEA Markets, BBC Worldwide.

“These are welcome results for advertisers looking to reach this highly desirable audience,” said McLeod.

And they call it gadget love …

The survey also reveals consumers’ love for gadgets – 83pc own a laptop, 64pc a smartphone, 50pc a games console and 21pc a tablet computer.

Some 86pc have broadband internet access. News consumption through online video sources has now become the norm with 56pc citing this as something they do regularly.

“It’s clear from the survey that the majority of people in Ireland are embracing technology in a big way when it comes to news consumption,” said Kevin Foley, commercial director in,’s advertising partner.

“Rather than just relying on TV or radio news bulletins to keep up to date, we are increasingly migrating to online sources. Media organisations are reacting accordingly with many offering excellent online alternatives through websites and apps.

“However, in order for them to thrive and survive it’s crucial that content and advertising on these platforms evolves to reflect this behavioural change.”

The findings also outlined the importance of tailoring content for different platforms – TV, online, mobile and tablet computers. Seven out of 10 respondents believe having content optimised for their choice of device is important, with the majority (75pc) accessing news content on laptop devices. Smartphones are the access device for 30pc.

When visiting websites for news, RTÉ.ie (74pc) is the most popular choice followed by (53.5pc), (41.4pc) and (34.9pc).

For sports news, RTÉ (47pc) is the most popular choice but only by a narrow margin. The BBC comes second (38pc) followed by Sky News (21pc) and The Irish Times (18pc).  

The same order of popularity applies when it comes to ownership of smartphone apps for these media organisations.

When it comes to the origin of content, RTÉ is the clear leader in driving local news while the BBC is seen as an international content provider.

Digital marketing image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years