Newspaper reach, influence continues to drop

The bright spot is community news, where reach is still strong among all demos.

Last fall, Vividata’s seasonal study showed a drop in newspaper reach, with three out of four adults reporting that they read newspaper content on a weekly basis. That figure has since dropped: three out of five Canadians now report having read a newspaper in the last week.

Reading tends to be more frequent in Quebec; Montreal has the second-highest rate at 75% and Quebec City is the only region to break 80%. Victoria, Regina, Winnipeg and Ottawa/Gatineau are all between 70 and 75%, while St. John’s, Toronto, Hamilton, Halifax, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver are all below 70% (at 63%, Vancouver boasts the lowest reach).

Regina and St. John’s have seen lifts since last year, but many others have seen drops; Halifax saw the biggest drop at 16 percentage points.

Mobile’s share of eyeballs is increasing ever-so-slightly; currently, 54% of readers consume newspapers on mobile to some degree (up from 52% a year ago). The number of “print-only” readers has shrunk a bit more drastically; 32% identify as print-only, down from 39%. Currently, 70% of readers consume print (whether exclusively or on combination with desktop and/or mobile), down from 77% this time last year.

Print continues to play better on weekends than it does during weekdays, although this year did see more readers using digital on weekends than in years prior.

While news reach is declining among all the major age groups, young Canadians appear to be resilient. There’s a 66% reach for news among Gen Y (born 1980 to 1995) and a 63% reach among Gen Z (born after 1996). While not directly comparable to last year’s results, in which Vividata combined parts of the different age groups as the general “Millennials” cohort, the Gen Y stat overlaps mainly with last year’s Millennial group – which also shows 66% reach.

Older Canadians – Boomers and Pre-Boomers – are likeliest to go directly to a newspaper’s website, whereas the practice is less popular (under 37%) for both Gen Y and Gen Z. That generation is much more likely to access news via social and search engines.

And, like magazines, newspapers appear to be lessening their influence over the buying public. This year, 20% of readers say they researched or looked up a product after seeing it in a newspaper, and 12% say they bought it. That’s down significantly from last year, when 37% said they researched and 20% said they followed through on the purchase.

Despite overall softness on the newspaper market, community newspapers in particular are fairly stable. Reach is at 42% – it was at 41% this time last year – and remains steady overall in Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia. There have even been small lifts for weekly reach in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

While reach for community newspapers has decreased slightly in Gen X, they’ve increased in every other demo, particularly for people living in communities with a population of under 100,000.