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September 8, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:15am

Print vs online: New polling shows magazine readers still prefer print

By Charlotte Tobitt

More than half of American and British news consumers now prefer reading newspapers online than in print.

But the picture is the other way round for magazines, where the preference is still strongly for the print experience, according to new Yougov data polling 111,000 people in the UK and 55,000 in the US.

In the UK, 54% of people now prefer reading news content online than in print newspapers – and the preference is even stronger in the US where it is 60%.

The desire for print is unsurprisingly strongest in the 55-plus age group, but especially in the UK where they remain the only group to prefer reading news in print.

In the UK, some 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds and three-quarters of 25 to 34-year-olds prefer reading news online, but only 36% of over-55s say the same, with 46% of that older age group having a clear preference for print.

By comparison, half of over-55s in the US have made the switch to preferring online news compared to 31% still expressing a desire for print.

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In stark contrast, 58% of Brits still get more enjoyment from reading magazines in print than online, as do 47% of Americans.

[Read more: Magazine ABCs for 2021 with full breakdown of UK print and digital circulation]

The strongest pro-digital dissenters to that were 25 to 34-year-olds in the US, 44% of whom like reading magazines online versus a third preferring print. Some 39% of American 18 to 24-year-olds say they enjoy online versus 32% for print.

In the UK, the preference for magazines in print remains largely resolute. Even among the youngest adults a third prefer reading magazine content online compared to 39% in print.

Despite an enduring love for print magazines, print revenue in the industry has suffered a long decline over the past 20 years that steepened during the Covid-19 pandemic. Print revenue was £258.7m in 2021 compared to £866m in 2012, with digital up from £235.1m to £297.7m.

And GQ deputy global editorial director Adam Baidawi told Press Gazette earlier this summer there was a “romanticised” vision of print-centred magazines that was becoming “less and less sensical”.

[Read more: How has the UK consumer magazine industry evolved? Two decades of change]

The data is drawn from continuously collected figures and rolling surveys from throughout August as part of Yougov Global Profiles rather than one questionnaire. For this data set, 111,659 people in the UK were surveyed about newspapers while 111,627 answered about magazines. In the US, 55,934 answered about newspapers and 55,939 about magazines.

Picture: Press Gazette

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