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August 3, 2023

News is second most popular type of social media video – Ofcom

Ofcom report also shows interest in news on speech radio versus podcasts.

By Aisha Majid

News is the second most popular type of social media video among UK audiences aged over 15, according to an annual Ofcom report into the country’s media consumption habits.

The Media Nations UK report found that 63% of adults who watched short videos at least once a month watched news, second only to ‘how-to’ videos (64%), and ahead of videos from friends and family (54%), music videos (54%) and videos by influencers (48%).

Last year, news was the third most popular type of content viewed, behind how-to videos and videos from the general public. Although news is up by four percentage points in the 2023 report, news had previously topped the list in 2021.

Preferences, however, varied by age group. Among social video viewers aged 15–24, videos by the general public were the most popular, watched by 72% of this age group who watched short-form content.

News, meanwhile, was mostly favoured by viewers aged over 45, with 65% saying they watched this type of content.

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Overall, short-form video was most popular among younger audiences, likely driven by the popularity of platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram with this group.

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While 38% of all UK adults aged over 15 said they watched videos shorter than ten minutes daily, nearly seven in ten (68%) of young people aged 15–24 said they watched short videos every day.

Youtube was the most popular platform overall on which to watch short videos, used by 68% of people aged over 15. It was followed by Facebook (49%) and Instagram (31%).

Facebook and Youtube were also the social platforms with the highest overall reach. Each platform was accessed by almost 45.6 million people (91% of online UK adults).

Tiktok was the fastest growing, having seen its audience climb to 45% of people (22.3 million) this year, up from 36% of people in 2022. Tiktok was also the most popular platform among users from Generation Z (aged 15–24 years) with 76% (5.2 million) saying they used the platform.

As well as having the highest reach, audiences also spent the most time on average each day with Facebook and its messaging app (37 minutes) followed by Snapchat (31 minutes) and Tiktok (28 minutes).

Tiktok (58 minutes) and Snapchat (52 minutes) captured the most daily viewing time from people aged 15–24.

Other studies such as the Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) reveal that while Facebook remains the most popular social channel for news, its importance has declined sharply in recent years as video formats on platforms such as Tiktok, Instagram and Youtube have become more influential.

A special 2022 RISJ report found that half of leading publishers in more than 40 countries now regularly use Tiktok, with Now This (6.2 million followers), the Daily Mail (5.8 million) and ABC News (4.9 million) among the news names with the largest followings. BBC News, meanwhile, has found particular success on Instagram, boasting a following of 25.9 million on the Meta-owned platform.

Increased competition in commercial TV news

The report found a sharp fall in the number of TV programmes attracting audiences of over four million, which it put down to falling audiences for the main early and late evening news broadcasts, as well as TV soaps. News programmes attracting these "mass" audiences have fallen 72% since 2014, from 537 to 148 programmes.

News, however, bucked the trend when it came to spending on programming on commercial channels, which Ofcom said was due to increased competition in news broadcasting. GB News, which is now challenging Sky News and the BBC News channel in some primetime slots, launched in 2021, while News UK's TalkTV followed a year later.

While collective spending across all types of programming for commercial channels fell by 5% year-on-year, spending on news among this group reached its highest level at £189m in 2022, up 42% from 2021.

The Media Nations report also found that despite the increased provision of stations providing speech content, including Times Radio and GB News Radio, audiences to speech radio remained unchanged, reaching 33% of UK adults each week.

Among people who listened to speech-based radio stations at least monthly, 50% said they did so to catch up on news.

News was less popular among podcast listeners, with 18% saying they used the format for news.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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