Monday, August 26, 2013

Trends in Local Media News App Use

Mobile is booming.  Half of U.S. adults have smartphones, and 1 in 4 have installed an app from a local media source.  Overall, that's not an overwhelming number (yet), but its enough to get a look at how these early adopters and utilizing those apps.
StepLeader conducted a large scale survey of mobile users, and for this report looked at the roughly quarter of them that indicated that they had installed and used an app from a local media outlet on their smartphone, a tablet, or on a connected-TV.  It's not a random sample, but good enough to provide an initial look.

Local news apps were overwhelmingly on smartphones (92%), while more than a third (37%) have local news apps on tablets.  (Only 4% have them on connected TVs, but penetration of those sets remains very low).  Demographically, local news app users are well-educated (92% have at least some college) and affluent (71% reported incomes of $50K or more).  When asked their reasons for downloading a local news app, the top responses were that the apps were best for local news and for local weather.  In fact, news, weather & sports account for 97% of app interest.  The apps were used fairly consistently throughout the day (except for overnight (11pm - 6 am) and dinner time (5- 8 pm).  Some 26-36% of respondents reported using local news apps in all  of the other dayparts.  Users were also generally happy with the apps - 60% said they would be Likely or Very Likely to recommend the app to others.

Despite this use, local news app users indicate that local TV broadcast news remains their primary choice for getting local news and information.  In what's got to be a disappointment for traditional newspapers, more of the sample identified local newspaper websites (7%) than local print newspapers (6%) as their primary news choice.  Breaking these down by age, the proportion citing local TV news broadcasts as their primary source increased over age groups - only a third of the 18-29 age group cited broadcasts as their primary source, while 62% of those 60 or older did.  Online sources, apps or websites, trended in the other direction, being cited more frequently by younger respondents.

The survey also asked how frequently respondents used various local media sources.  Here, the proportion that accessed that outlet every day was only slightly higher for local newscasts (36%) than it was for local news apps (32%).  The proportion of occasional users (2 - 5 days a week) were slightly higher for local news apps (10-14%) than for local news broadcasts (8-11%).

Now for the bad news for local news outlets - 82% said they would not be willing to pay for local news apps (primarily because its available free on other outlets, and/or available elsewhere).  Only 4% expressed a willingness to pay (but two-thirds were willing to pay only $1.99 or less).  The other 14% said they might be willing to pay if the app offered something valuable - like no ads (29%), or unique content (63%).  In addition, only 11.9% reported relying only on a local news app rather than also using national or international news apps - and thus faces competition.  The news apps most frequently reported were CNN (40%), Fox News (33.4%), Yahoo News (32.3%), USA Today (22.0%), NY Times (18.2%), and the BBC (16.8%).

Source -  Local Media App Trends, Summer 2013: Survey of Local Media App Users,  StepLeader report.

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