Tablets: The New Face of News Consumption

By Susan Visscher | March 10, 2012

tablets, news consumption, ipad


An astonishing 72.7 million tablets were sold in 2011, a 256% increase over 2010, the year of their debut.  As of the beginning of 2012, 19% of Americans owned a tablet. The number of tablet owners nearly doubled from December 2011 to January 2012, likely a byproduct of the holiday season.  Of those tablet owners, 77% use their tablet every day and 53% access news from their tablets daily. In fact, accessing news is the second most popular activity on a tablet, behind emailing.

Tablet owners tend to be heavy news consumers. Tablets have already surpassed computers, print, and smartphones as the favorite way to check headlines and read longer articles. Surprisingly, apps are not the preferred way to access news on tablets. In a Pew Research Center study, 40% of the respondents stated that they were obtaining their news from websites on their tablets, while 31% were using news apps and the browser equally to source news. 21% of those questioned preferred news apps.

It is important to note that tablet users are relying on familiar news brands when accessing news. 

How have tablets established themselves as users go-to device for news consumption? Both laptops and smartphones have provided effective Internet interfaces, allowing for mobility and ease when accessing the news. Tablets, however, have surpassed both. Their large screens, convenient size and user-friendly interfaces could partially explain why.

Demographics could also provide insight. Well over half of users are college graduates, employed full-time, and make over $75,000 per year. This same demographic also tends to consume news more regularly then their counterparts. Tablets are a news-junkie’s device. These people want news, and prefer a tablet to get it. 

Tablet users try out new news sources more often, but they tend to stick to familiar brands. Being well established in the news community could result in more traffic to the product more often. For those news providers that are not industry leaders, tablets still offer ample opportunity to increase brand awareness. 

As previously mentioned, tablet users tend to use mobile web to access content instead of apps.  Smaller and local news stations can capitalize on this trend by improving and promoting their mobile sites. These companies can also focus on increasing brand awareness as a tablet-friendly news platform to encourage users to visit their site or download their app. 

Regardless of the tactic used, companies should understand the growing and pivotal role of tablets in this area. Companies wanting to remain competitive must embrace and adapt to the devices if they wish to survive in the digital age.