Tiktok was the fastest growing news source in the UK between 2020 and 2022, according to Ofcom’s annual news consumption survey.
Some 3.9m UK adults over 16 (7% of total population) said they used Tiktok as a source of news in 2022, compared to 0.8m in 2020 (1%), making it as popular as Sky News’ website and app.
Most of Tiktok’s growth has been down to its popularity among younger users- half of its news users are aged 16 to 24.
News organisations including Sky News, Daily Mail and Washington Post have stepped up their investment in Tiktok in recent years. Even BBC News, which initially shunned the platform, joined the app in March.
However according to the Ofcom survey, most users on Tiktok still get their news on the platform from other people they follow (47%) as opposed to news organisations.
Users of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, however, said that they got most of their news on the platform from news organisations compared to friends and family and other people they follow - a share that has continued to grow in recent years.
Almost three quarters (72%) of people who used Snapchat for news said they got their news on the platform from news outlets in 2022 compared to 64% in 2019. People consuming news on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are also now more likely to now get their news from news organisations than in 2019.
Instagram, Tiktok and Youtube are most popular individual sources of news for teens
Among teenagers aged 12-15 the decline of traditional news sources is more pronounced. Instagram (29%), Tiktok (28%) and Youtube (28%) are now the top three most used sources of news across all platforms, knocking the BBC's TV channels off the top spot. [Note: This was updated on 25/7/22 to specify the BBC's TV channels rather than BBC overall.]
Less than a quarter (24%) of teens said they use BBC One/Two for news compared to 45% five years ago, pulling it down to fifth place. It is the first time Instagram has featured as the most popular news source among teenagers.
Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s group director for strategy and research, said: "Teenagers today are increasingly unlikely to pick up a newspaper or tune into TV news, instead preferring to keep up-to-date by scrolling through their social feeds.
"And while youngsters find news on social media to be less reliable, they rate these services more highly for serving up a range of opinions on the day’s topical stories."
Overall, echoing previous findings from organisations such as the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, the Ofcom survey found that younger age groups are much more likely to use the internet and social media for news, whereas older news consumers are more likely to turn to print, radio and TV. Instagram was also the top news source among 16 to 24-year-olds (46% reach). BBC One’s reach among this group meanwhile has declined from 2018.
Most popular newspaper brands in the UK 2022
Newspaper brands' digital offerings have not grown fast enough to offset the decline of print. Among people aged over 16, the combined print and online reach of newspaper brands fell to 38%, compared to 47% two years ago and 51% in 2018.
The UK’s most read title across print and digital is the Daily Mail, which was accessed by 38% of UK adults. The Guardian was the most widely read digital title.
The Mail on Sunday remains the most read Sunday title reaching 22% of people (down from 20% in 2018).
Circulation of free sheets has continued to fall since 2020 amid changed working and commuting patterns. Some 19% of print newspaper readers said they used daily free sheets in 2022, compared to 27% in 2020.
Television news consumption in the UK
The temporary Covid-related bump in TV news consumption is over according to the survey, although TV remains the top news platform overall.
Five of the top six TV channels (including BBC One which remains the top news source across platforms) reached less people in 2021 compared to 2020, according to Barb data supplied to Ofcom.
Among the adults that use TV for news, BBC One remains the most-used channel with 72% saying they used it.
Most trusted sources of news in the UK
When it comes to trust, there was little change from 2020 with consumers rating TV highest and social media lowest.
Seventy-one percent of UK adults said they trusted TV news compared to 35% for social media. CNN (83%), Sky News (75%) , BBC (73%), ITV (70%) and Channel 4 (66%) were among the leading brands for trust. Over two-thirds (67%) of GB News viewers said they trusted its news reporting.
Despite its popularity among teenagers, just 30% said they trust Tiktok’s news content. Half of 12 to 15 year olds trust news content on Youtube (51%) and Twitter (52%).
Most popular sources of news in UK overall
Ofcom asked its survey recipients which to name the specific platforms that they use for news from a multiple choice list.
BBC One remains the top news source overall reaching 76% of adults. The BBC was also the news organisation with the highest audience reach across all platforms, reaching 76% of people who follow news.
Youtube, which reached 8% of adults, meanwhile has grown in popularity to appear on Ofcom’s top 20 list of news sources for the first time. The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday print and digital editions were the best ranked newspaper brands coming in tenth place (15% reach).
Use of podcasts is small but growing - 10% of adults said they used podcasts this year.
Some 13% of UK adults said they use news aggregators, while 40% said they used radio, down from 44% in 2018.
Ofcom's most popular news publishers list provides significantly different results from data which tracks news consumption habits. According to Similarweb's list of the most popular news publishers in the UK, Reach attracts 78% of the UK population on a monthly basis to its sites.
For the report, Ofcom conducted 1,086 face-to-face interviews and 1,706 online interviews with UK adults while 1,001 12 to 15-year-olds were also surveyed.
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