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High-Powered Internet Users Identified as Online News Consumers

  |  March 23, 2006   |  Comments

Internet users consume a mix of off- and online media, some broadband users are more aggressive in online consumption.

Online news-gathering growth follows a similar adoption rate to broadband. A study of news consumption across all channels conducted by The Pew Internet & American Life Project creates a class of "high-powered" broadband users that consume more news and media on the Web than the average Internet user.

The high-powered broadband user is defined as Internet users who do more online on the typical day than other home high-speed users. They typically do four or more activities online compared to the average Internet user average of three out of 10 activities.

Heavy Internet users typically are three times more likely than other users to get news online in an average day. In total, 71 percent of this category gets news online. Fifty-nine percent get news from local TV, 53 percent listen to the radio for news and 52 percent watch national TV newscasts. Another 43 percent get news from a local paper, and 21 percent read national newspapers for news. Seventy-two percent of this group report getting news from both local and national TV.

"[High-powered users] really have the Internet as the driving force behind how they get news generally, online and offline," said John Horrigan, associate director for research at Pew Internet & American Life Project. "I think that's different from several years ago where even high-speed users were guided by what they saw offline, now the polarity has switched."

U.S. News Sources by Broadband User Type, December 2005 (%)
High-powered Home Broadband All Other Home Broadband
Local TV 59 54
National TV 52 46
Radio 53 47
Local paper 43 35
Internet 71 24
National paper 21 14
Average number of sources 3.0 2.2
Number of cases 395 619
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2006

Registration is a common requirement for many news sites. Forty-five percent of Internet users have gone through the registration process on a given site to gain access. Of those who say they go online for news, 53 percent have registered at one or more sites. For broadband users, 54 percent have registered for news, and 59 percent of broadband users who say they read news online have registered for at least one site.

Fourteen percent of high-powered broadband users have paid for news content. Nearly half percent of all Internet users who pay for news are considered broadband elite.

Internet users have control over the news they receive. Nineteen percent of all Internet users have set up news alerts; that's 23 percent of online news readers. Broadband users account for 61 percent of the people who set up alerts.

Types of News Alerts People Get by Connection Type, December 2005
All Respondents Who Set Perferences Home Broadband Users
General news or headlines 30 27
Weather 15 11
News related to your business or industry 13 14
Sports 11 12
Finance 11 12
Entertainment 10 9
Health 9 7
Science/technology 6 7
Politics 5 6
Travel 2 3
Horoscopes 2 2
Other 20 24
Don't know 5 4
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2006

Pew Internet fielded a study from November 29 through December 31 of 2005. Of the 3,011 adult respondents, 1,931 are Internet users and 1,014 have high-speed Internet access at home.

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Enid Burns

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