In April, Mashable announced it was restructuring to shift away from hard news content and toward video content. A couple months later came the news that Tribune Publishing would be rebranding as “tronc,” an implicit nod to “online content” that will reportedly have a heavy focus on video. But do internet users really want their news in video form?
According to research conducted in 26 countries by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and YouGov, traditional, unsexy articles are still the most popular format for news content. Nearly six in 10 internet users said they had read an article in the past week.
That compared with just 24% who had viewed an online news video in the past week. And just 5% said they mostly watch, rather than read, digital news.
Some internet users were more likely to watch news video, however. Among active users of social media sites, 36% had watched video news content in the past week, making them about 50% more likely than the general population to do so. Among Facebook users in particular, 27% had watched news video.
Among the three-quarters of internet users surveyed by Reuters Institute who had not watched digital news videos in the past week, the biggest reason why not was fundamental to the nature of the medium: It’s just not as quick or convenient as reading. The (lack of) speed and ease of viewing video put off more respondents than ads, load times and the cost of mobile bandwidth. About one in five also said that videos typically added no value above that of a text story.
A year earlier, in Feburary 2015, Reuters Institute found that about two-thirds of US internet users consumed more digital news content in text form than as videos, compared to just 14% who watched more video news.
Longitudinal research from USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future found that 40% of US internet users watched news clips online in 2014, down from 50% in 2012. Also in 2014, 37% of US smartphone users watched such clips on their mobile devices, a figure that was unchanged since the previous year.
Advertisers are counting increased digital video viewing, however. Among those polled in February 2016 by Forrester Consulting for Videology, 61% said they thought consumers would significantly or moderately increase the time they spend viewing news, sports and other short clips online.