Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. online population regularly turns to the Internet as a source for news, but the Net still trails cable television, network TV and radio, according to a Market Facts Inc. study.
The study, which was conducted for MSNBC, found that the Internet, which is used by 65 percent of Internet users as a news source, was ahead of magazines (used by 58 percent of Internet users) and close to radio (67 percent). But cable television, used by 76 percent of Internet users, and network TV, which is used by 89 percent, still maintain comfortable leads.
Not surprisingly, the online news medium has carved out a niche in the workplace. According to the survey, 31 percent of Internet users utilize the Internet for news and information at work, compared to 23 percent who turn to newspapers and 17 percent who get news from the radio.
Even on Sept. 11 and in the days following the attack, the Internet played a backup role as a source for news. According to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 81 percent of all Americans said they got most of their information at the time from television, 11 percent said they received most of their information from radio and 3 percent cited the Internet as the source of most of their information. On the day of the attack, 29 percent of Internet users (more than 30 million people) went looking for news online. Pew found this to be one-third greater than the normal number of online news seekers. Overall, 36 percent of Internet users went online looking for news in the first two days after the attack.
The majority of the users surveyed for the Market Facts study utilize online news services to seek personally relevant information, such as weather, stock quotes and local news. The three news topic of most importance to the Internet population are local news, national news and weather. Forty-six percent of the Internet population surveyed considers local news to be the most important. Nearly 40 percent say that weather is most important, and 37 percent respond that national news is most important.
More than 80 percent of Internet users have tried at least one of the major online news services (ABC News, AOL, CBS News, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, MSN, MSNBC.com, NY Times, USA Today, Washington Post, WSJI, and Yahoo), with an average of 2.9 different services tried. The majority of Internet users (58 percent) are regular consumers of at least one online news service, with an average of 1.4 services used regularly.
The Market Facts study also found that broadband users watch streaming video 4.1 times a month, versus 1.3 times for dial-up connections. Nearly one-half (44 percent) of broadband users have watched streaming news video on the Internet and nearly two-thirds (67 percent) of the broadband audience has seen a streaming advertisement.
Consumers with broadband access are more likely to turn to the Internet for breaking news, and broadband users are more likely to use streaming audio, video and rich media to optimize coverage of breaking news and live events. Of the broadband audience, 23 percent turn to the Internet for breaking news as compared to 6 percent of users with a dial-up connection. Comparatively, 34 percent of broadband users looking for breaking news would turn to broadcast TV, 29 percent would turn to cable TV, 7 percent would turn to the radio and 2 percent would turn to newspapers.
The MSNBC/Market Facts study collected data via telephone coincidental interviews with a random sample of 350 online news users during July and August 2001. All participants were screened for regular Internet usage (within the last two weeks) and at least a minimum consumption of news in some form (use of any news media within last two weeks).
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