The Truth About the Multi-Channel Audience

New data surfaced late last week (although it feels like it’s a constant research point, so hardly new data) that continues to confirm what we already know: newspaper consumption is on the way down. A 1000-person survey from Opinion Research Corporation indicates that Americans have turned less to TV and print in the last year, while radio (ever so slightly) and online news consumption have increased. The chart below shows the last two years of data related to the proportion of sources each individual uses:

The Multi-Channel Dillema

This, to me, is the ultimate “what does this mean” data. The Media Post article that tipped me off to this new research wanted to focus on the growth of online and its impact on the decline of print. I think there’s much more to that in this data.

Draw an imaginary line across the current levels of information consumption. Now, sure, TV is definitely a spike but, overall, I think the bigger point here is that one channel isn’t enough for Americans and things are starting to aim for the middle. As a geek, I appreciate the data to show that more people are turning to online in the last year, but I don’t really think that it’s shocking or groundbreaking any longer. We not only balance our consumption, but we have started to balance our sources. We are getting closer and closer to a democratic news market, and that to me is fascinating.

It’s partially a trust issue (more sources is better), it’s partially an access issue (daily news is less universal), and it’s partially a convenience (cloud versus carbon). However, the more things get flat, I think it is better for the news consumer. The publishers may not love it (or at least the traditional publisher), but what’s the purpose of news then?

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