Insights and Trends - News Media Industry: United States
While it well-known that consumers access news through a variety of print, digital, and audio sources, the dynamics are constantly changing. In 2019, top trends indicate consumer preferences as to where they want their news delivered and how they want to receive it, along with news media's attempt to recognize trends and adapt to them. Doing the job affordably is a major concern as the media industry acknowledges how consumers receive information, hones its response to fake news, examines new channels of distribution, and ponders the developing role of artificial intelligence.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE NEW MEDIA EXPERIENCE FOR CONSUMERS
- Now more than ever, American consumers are taking charge of the media they see and experience by piecing together many sources that might include pay TV, streaming video, music, podcasts, and gaming options they find most valuable. Survey results from Deloitte's annual survey of media trends shows that, for the first time, more respondents have at least one streaming video subscription (69 percent) than have a traditional pay TV subscription (65 percent).
- 43% of U.S. household subscribe to both pay TV and streaming video services. Use of these services for live TV news, sports, and TV shows is increasing. Consumers can choose from over 300 streaming video services to craft the package they want and are willing to pay for.
- Due to ever-advancing technology, live streaming is on the rise. News stories often break on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram before the information appears on a news show. With a smartphone in hand, users can be as up to date on the news as on what their friends ate for breakfast.
RESPONDING TO FAKE NEWS
- For the past few years, incorrect information posing as accurate news circulates daily on television, social media, and other internet sources. This "fake news" may sound credible, but consumers who have pieced a mosaic of sources may be accessing misleading information.
- This phenomenon started in 2016 when juicy but false tidbits such as that the Pope endorsed Donald Trump and or that Hillary Clinton was selling weapons to ISIS outperformed real news on Facebook.
- The result is a revival of investigative journalism, where facts matter. According to Pew Research, as quoted in a LexisNexus report, consumers are becoming more perceptive as to which sources are credible:
1. National news organization: 76% combined score (18%/59%)
2. Local news organizations: 82 %combined score (22% ‘a lot’/60% ‘some’)
3. Friends, family and acquaintances: 77% combined score (14%/63%)
4. Social media: 34% combined score (4%/30%)
- Newspaper credibility has been declining since the 1970s and now is regarded as a credible source by only 20% of Americans in 2016. However, a recent Gallup poll indicated that in 2018, trust in newspapers had gained seven percentage points and trust in television news gained three points due to an increasing number of credible, thoroughly-investigated stories that dominated headlines throughout 2017.
- A movement is also underway for social media platforms such as Facebook to develop better ways of screening information for truth and accuracy.
- Some new journalistic enterprises like Tortoise (UK) and the Dutch De Correspondent now the U.S. are taking their time investigating and releasing stories in contrast to "the current glut of quick, shallow, and reactive coverage."
EXPANDING THE CHANNELS OF NEWS DISTRIBUTION
- Many consumers have "cut the cord" and subscribed to streaming channels. They are not only accessing the information at home on their television sets, but also on desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, and more.
- In an attempt to provide "news on the run" for consumers, the City of New York pioneered a pilot program that replaced pay phones in five boroughs with 1,700 WiFi-enabled kiosks that present city trivia, sports scores, advertisements and now constantly updated top news headlines from AP. Amanda Giddon, the senior consumer marketing manager at Intersection, one of the companies behind LinkNYC, say the kiosks "create a high-impact experience on the street" while offering a "unique platform that can be responsive and integrate real-time data and trigger content based on environmental conditions."
THE INCREASING ROLE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
- Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are voice-enabled digital assistants and are showing potential to change how people engage with media content of all kinds. The market for this equipment grew 140% this year, from 15% in 2017 to 36% in 2018. While most consumers used the assistants to play music, their potential to disseminate news is increasing with rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI).
- Artificial intelligence (AI) enable virtual assistants and smartphones to better understand what consumers want. Currently, they can play a song, research a fact, find a movie, buy groceries, and turn down the heat in the home, but have potential to speak out news headlines to keep people better informed.
- Some journalists even see artificial intelligence as crucial to the future of journalism.
FINANCING NEWS DELIVERY
- As traditional newspaper and network TV ad revenues decrease, delivering the news remains a costly proposition for news organizations, who are trying new approaches to finance operations.
- Advertising in the form of banner ads, popups, and pay-per-click subsidizes content delivery, but media organizations offer subscription services to read or see content (CNN, MSNBC), as well as paywalls that require paying for access to printed information.
- A survey of 200 editors, CEOs, and digital leaders indicated that the industry is latching unto subscription plans and membership as a revenue source for the news industry going forward. In 2019, over half (52%) expect this to be the major revenue focus in the future, as compared with just 27% for display advertising, 8% for native advertising, and 7% for donations.
- The media industry is attempting to balance access with revenue. While consumers are piecing together subscription packages to get the news and entertainment content they want, they may tolerate some ads in return for content but are often willing to pay more to minimize or eliminate ads. Meanwhile, they dislike paywalls which restrict access to quality news; the result could be news avoidance and the adoption of ‘paywall-blocking’ software."
- Media organizations are looking to foundations who are willing to provide operating support to newsrooms that can generate important community-based journalism. In a Reuters survey, 29% expect to see significant help this year from foundations and non-profits, 18% expect tech platforms to contribute more, while 11% think governments will provide more support.
When tracking new trends in the new media industry, researchers are fortunate to have access to a host of credible sources which include not only Pew Research, which does annual reports on the state of the media, but many other research organizations such as NexusLexus, the AP, Deloitte's Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Reuters, and more. In addition, news magazines such as Forbes contribute lists of trends, along with insights about media. As many sources include many of the same trends among their findings, your research team focused on most-frequently mentioned trends to create a list.