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Study: National press online readers average 30 seconds per day versus 40 minutes for print

By Dominic Ponsford

Online readers of UK newspaper brands may vastly outnumber print ones – but in terms of time spent reading, print is still king.

Munich and City University academic Neil Thurman has analysed the available data to estimate how much time is spent reading various national newspaper brands online and in print.

Overall some 88.5 per cent of total reading time is spent in print versus 11.5 per cent online.

This follows a report by the News Media Association which found that the main UK national newspaper publishers made 88 per cent of revenue from print versus 12 per cent online.

Thurman said: “It looks like revenues match audience attention closely. This would make sense: after all, as Benjamin Franklin said, ‘time is money’.

“This new research uses ‘official’ industry data: from the UK National Readership Survey (NRS) for print; and from Comscore for online. It is the first research to comprehensively account for the time spent reading newspapers via mobile devices.

“Although online editions have doubled or tripled the number of readers national newspapers’ reach, this increased exposure disguises the huge differences in attention paid by print and online readers.

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“My research shows that while print newspapers are read for an average of 40 minutes per day, online visitors to the websites and ‘apps’ of those same newspapers spend an average of just 30 seconds per day.

“Scale those numbers up and you can see why newspapers still rely on print for the vast majority of the attention they receive.”

Looking at the national newspaper market in terms of total time spent with various titles, the Mail and Mail Online has a 30 per cent market share.

Excluding the two biggest UK national newspapers online (the Daily Mail and The Guardian) the nine remaining national newspaper titles derive 95 per cent of their totle reading time from print.

Digital as a proportion of total reading time :

According to Thurman’s study, the average online visitor to a UK national newspaper website spends less than 30 seconds per day with the title, whereas print readers average 40 minutes.

Thurman found that Mail Online has the most dedicated online readers averaging two minutes per day with the title.

This compares with a 43-minute average reading time for the print edition.

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