Online news 'now as popular as newspapers' header image

Accessing news content online is now just as popular as reading newspapers, new research has revealed. 

According to Ofcom, 41 per cent of Britons currently access news either online or through an app - this figure stood at just 32 per cent last year. Some 40 per cent of people read newspapers, which is unchanged from 2013.

This increase in online news consumption has been driven by young adults, with 60 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds now keeping up with current affairs this way, compared to 44 per cent last year.

Just under half (45 per cent) of this group said websites or apps are their most important source of news, up from only 30 per cent in 2013.

Ofcom found young people are far more likely to access news via a mobile device than older Britons. Some 40 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds have consumed news through a smartphone, compared to just four per cent of over-55s. Meanwhile, on tablets the difference is 15 per cent to seven per cent.

The telecoms watchdog believes the ease of access provided by mobile may be an explanation for why 17 per cent of young people said they read news to pass the time, while only nine per cent of over-55s do the same. 

However, this did not stop ten per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds from saying they do not follow the news at all. In total, only five per cent of adult Britons do not keep up with the news. 

When asked why they follow current affairs, 58 per cent of people said they do so to know what is happening across the world, 56 per cent highlighted following developments in the UK as key and 49 per cent said they want to keep up with what is going on in their local area.

Ofcom found the most popular means of consuming news remains TV, while the internet has overtaken radio to become the second most popular news platform.