Big App Gap in Mobile Local News
Although more people are embracing a Web-anytime lifestyle thanks to the growth of Internet-enabled smartphones and tablets, only a small percentage of Americans are using mobile apps to get local news, according to a new study.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that while almost half of adults get local news on mobile devices (47 percent), just one in 10 people use apps to do so, and only one percent of those with these apps actually pay for them.
Those that are accessing local news on their smartphones and tablets are doing so for various reasons: About 42 percent of mobile device owners check the local weather reports and 37 percent search for information about restaurants and local businesses. Fewer get news about local traffic and transportation, general news alerts or other local topics.
Overall, most adults are not paying for news right now. In fact, only 36 percent pay for some form of news, the majority of which plunk down for local print newspaper subscriptions.
Local outlets have long debated about charging readers to view online content as a means of collecting some revenue to help cover costs. When asked about the value of online access to their local newspaper, 23 percent of survey respondents said they would pay $5 a month to get full access. When asked if they would pay $10 per month for digitized local newspaper content, 18 percent of adults said yes.
Both of these figures are substantially higher than the percentage of adults (5 percent) who currently pay for online local news content. In keeping with observed trends, roughly three-quarters of respondents said they would not pay anything.
However, about 28 percent of Americans said the loss of their local newspaper would have a major impact on their ability to keep up with local information. Another 30 percent said the disappearance of the local paper would have a minor impact, but 39 percent said it would have no impact.
"While on the surface these findings may look bad for news organizations, there is some potentially good news in the data," said Kristen Purcell, associate director for research at the Pew Internet Project. "We found that adults who consume local news on mobile devices are almost twice as likely as other adults to say they would be willing to pay to access their local newspaper online. The percentage willing to pay is even higher among local app users, so there's evidence that this new mobile local news consumer sees value in their local newspaper."
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