Media Magazine

We Never Had Such a Big Audience: Let’s Capitalize on It Through All Platforms

Posted on the 15 May 2013 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: Users are spending more time consuming news and information, not only digitally, but, not surprisingly, via the traditional media outlets.

New research findings reveal information that provides reason for us in the media to rejoice: people are spending more time consuming news and information. While this is not a surprise, this new study from consultants McKinsey and Company also reminds us that the so called traditional press—-printed newspapers, radio and television—are still commanding attention.

While the study points to heavy use of the lean back platforms, it also shows that the digitally equipped are spending time during the day in lean forward mode,  getting news updates from their smartphones, online and tablets. 

Here is a highlight from a piece by Rick Edmonds, business analyst at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies:

Newspaper readers “lean back,” as the current lingo goes, and probably spend 20 to 40 minutes over morning coffee or catching up in the evening. The legions of NPR listeners could easily log an hour of commuting drive time getting news that way. Television, while it may not get undivided attention, is on for long periods.

By contrast, many studies have found that quick checks during working hours make up a big share of online traffic. Smart phones also support a quick summary style of news consumption. Pew research and others find tablet users spending more extended time with newspaper and magazine apps, especially during evenings. But not everyone has these devices yet, and many are not using them to consume news.

I had an email exchange with Rick after I read his piece, and I agree with his take:

Given the justifiable excitement about new platforms and the possibilities they create for storytelling and presentation, we may have an impression they have taken over the news sphere.  These numbers suggest otherwise.

And both Rick and I also agree with a valuable and interesting point made by both the Nieman Lab and Kevin Roche of McKinsey: digital may score lower on time spent, in part, because it is efficient.  You find what you want, read it and move on.

Let’s not forget second screen users

The one question I have about this particular study is that the calculation of time spent does not go into the “second screen” phenomenon, so if a user was watching the television news and simultaneously checking news on a digital device, each activity would count as time spent.

Multi tasters and second screen users are an ever growing number of the media consumption group, and I think that the fact that people are tuned in to two platforms cannot be ignored. These users may be watching news on television, but reading a feature story on their tablets, for example, not to mention occasional glances at a smartphone that indicates a breaking news item, or simply emails. Three screens is not such an uncommon phenomenon either.

I don’t think anyone should look at the McKinsey study and decide that traditional media is what’s at.  I am hoping that smart publishers, editors and designers will continue to monitor their own specific situations and where the readers are.  Better yet, they should continue to integrate the media quartet concept.

However, the good news is that, as I say repeatedly, we have never seen such high level of traffic towards the material we produce. It makes us all rethink how information is presented, the role of each platform, and how to tap into the time of a busy, but information addicted, audience.

Rick Edmonds agrees:

I think people are spending some additional time with news and as the papers like to point out when you count occasional users on all platforms, their audience is bigger than before, not smaller.

And here is the other side:

Why Focusing on Time Spent with Print Misses the Point about how News Works


Research from McKinsey seems to suggest that print-based media still commands a large proportion of time spent by consumers of news — but that is just part of the larger picture media companies have to understand.

It would be wise not to read too much into those McKinsey numbers, however: virtually all of the available evidence shows media consumption in print continues to decline, particularly with younger audiences, and as a result advertising revenue is disappearing as well. Media companies need to adapt to that fact, rather than trying to pretend it isn’t happening.

TheMarioBlog post #1260

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