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August 17, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:13am

News videos more popular than influencers on social media, report finds

By Andrew Kersley

News content is the third most popular type of social media video in the UK, a new Ofcom report has found, putting it higher than the likes of music and videos by social media influencers.

Some 59% of 3,252 adults polled reported watching news videos on sites like Tiktok and Youtube at least once a month between January and March, beaten only by how-to videos (64%) and videos from the general public (60%), according to the 2022 Ofcom Media Nations report.

However, the figure marks a small decline from last year when Ofcom said the pandemic had propelled news content into becoming the most popular genre of social video.

While the types of short-form videos watched by each age group differed substantially, news rated in the top five most popular types of content for every age bracket over 15 with the exception of 18 to 24-year-olds, where it ranked sixth but was still viewed by 61% of the age group.

Overall, 82% of adults aged over 15 reported watching some form of short-form social media video content in the past year.

News videos were followed in the overall rankings by music (56%), videos from family and friends (55%) and social media influencers (48%).

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Youtube reached 46 million UK adults in March, according to Ipsos iris data cited in the report, and has seen growing success among news publishers in recent years. US explanatory news site Vox, for example, nets an average of two million views per video thanks to its mix of slick visuals, left-field topics and focus on explanation and clarity.

Youtube was beaten, however, by Facebook/Facebook Messenger as the top short video-compatible social site with a reach of 47.3 million people. Instagram came third (36.9 million), then Tiktok (18 million) and Snapchat (11.3 million).

This year also saw an increasing breakthrough for news content on Tiktok, with a swathe of news outlets seeing six-figure rises in their follower counts in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine.

Even BBC News, which previously refused to join Tiktok as it claimed the app was solely for “light news”, made its own account in March, which now has more than 215,000 followers and over two million likes.

In previous years, it has been hard for news channels to gain a foothold on Tiktok, with the likes of The Washington Post and Now This being among the few titles able to build a substantial following – although many fewer had a presence compared to today.

A previous Ofcom report this year found that some 3.9 million people aged over 16 said they used Tiktok as a source of news, or 7% of the total population, making it the fastest-growing news source in the UK between 2020 and 2022.

The Media Nations report also found that youth engagement with TV news broadcasts was hitting record lows, with viewers aged between 18 and 24 spending 8% of their time watching terrestrial TV news, compared to nearly 14% for the overall population.

The new report also found that 2021 had seen an increase in spending on news by multichannel TV broadcasters including Sky, with news content spend rising from £121m to £134m.

Picture: Solen Feyissa/Pixabay

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