Young people turn away from TV news to keep up to date online

27 July 2021

Young people are much more likely to use the internet to keep up with news rather than using TV and other sources, according to Ofcom’s annual news consumption report.

Nine in 10 younger people aged 16-24 follow news stories online, compared with under two-thirds who get their news from TV. It’s a similar picture among people from a minority ethnic background, with 85% favouring internet news over TV news (69%).

Generally speaking, however, use of TV news held steady during the last year and remains the most popular news source among the general UK adult population. However, the research shows that use of radio, print newspapers and the internet for news all declined year on year.

The study, News Consumption in the UK 2020/21, looks at how adults and older children (aged 12-15) in the UK consume news across television, radio, print, social media, podcasts, other internet sources and magazines.

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Other findings from the research include:

  • After TV (79%), the internet is the next most popular platform for news (used by 73% of people), followed by radio (46%). One in three adults gets their news from print newspapers. But, when combining traditional print with newspaper websites and apps, this increases to half of adults.
  • BBC One remains the most popular news source overall (62%). This was followed by ITV (46%) and Facebook (36%) although both of these saw declines in use for news since 2020 (from 49% and 40% respectively). Several other news sources also saw similar declines year on year – Channel 4 (26% to 24%), BBC Radio 2 (16% to 13%) and BBC Radio 1 (13% to 11%).
  • When people were asked which of the main news sources is most important to them, BBC One came out on top (19%) although this decreased from 22% in 2020. The BBC website or app was selected as the next most valued news source – increasing in importance since 2020 (from 8% to 11%).
  • Half of adults use social media (49%) and other non-social media websites and apps Younger people aged 16-24 are much more likely to consider social media platforms as their most important sources of news (36% compared with 14% for the average UK population). However, generally speaking, social media performs least well on measures such as importance, trustworthiness, range of opinions and impartiality.
  • A fifth (19%) of UK adults use news aggregators, and 25% say they use search engines for news, a decline from 2020 (28%).
  • Just under six in 10 12- to 15-year-olds (57%) say they are interested in news. They remain particularly interested in news about music (53%), followed by news about celebrities (45%), the environment (44%) and serious things happening in the UK (43%).
  • Although BBC One and BBC Two remain the most used (35%) and most important news sources (14%) among 12-15s, these channels have seen a significant reduction in use over the last year (down from 41%). In contrast, Sky News (19% to 24%), TikTok (11% to 22%) and WhatsApp (16% to 21%) were all used to access news more often than in 2020.