Digitisation is affecting our media lives

NEWS | 24 October 2019

The use of traditional media is decreasing and the use of social media is levelling out. At the same time, the use of digital streaming services for video and sound is increasing. This is stated in the report The Swedes and the Internet 2019, presented by the Internet Foundation in Sweden on October 15.

The Internet has revolutionised our society, and is now often the preferred medium in many types of everyday communication. A majority of the population uses digital community services, Mobile BankID, and social media. The use of traditional media on traditional platforms is decreasing, while more and more people are consuming the digital versions of traditional media.

Below, we highlight some of the results regarding media use on digital platforms.

Internet users (16+ years) who use different media at least sometimes or daily 2019 (per cent)

Note 1: The term Internet users refers to questionnaire respondents who say they use the Internet at least sometimes.
Note 2: The proportion of social media users refers to Internet users aged 12+ years.

Source: The Swedes and the Internet 2019
Download the graph as PDF

Digital reading
In Sweden, the regular habit of consuming newspapers on paper has been decreasing for many years. Reading a daily newspaper online is most common in the age group 35-45 years, at 50 per cent. Among pensioners, the corresponding figure is 41 per cent.

Reading blogs has never been a daily habit among the majority of Internet users in Sweden; in recent years, it has remained stable at around 7 per cent. However, almost half of Internet users state that they access blogs sometimes. Reading a blog sometimes is most common in the age group 26-45 years, at about 60 per cent. Among the youngest, aged 12- 15 years, 35 per cent state that they sometimes read blogs, while 38 per cent of pensioners read blogs sometimes.

The paper book has a strong position, with 88 per cent of Internet users stating that they read paper books. Yet the popularity of digital books has increased. This is especially true among those who state that they sometimes access digital books: the proportion has increased from 20 per cent in 2016 to 42 per cent in 2019. The proportion who consume digital books is highest among Internet users between the ages of 12 and 45, at about 50 per cent.

Moving image platforms
A majority of viewers still do most of their watching on traditional television sets, with 57 per cent of Internet users watching traditional television daily; however, the proportion of daily viewers has decreased. With increasing viewing of digital video, especially among teens, a decline in traditional television viewing is not surprising.

There are several services for watching movies, videos, and television online. The report The Swedes and the Internet focuses particularly on the streaming services of traditional television channels, Netflix, and YouTube. YouTube is the biggest channel, with 32 per cent watching this service  daily, after which comes Netflix with 20 per cent viewing daily, and lastly, television channels’ streaming services with 15 per cent watching daily.

Generally, the popularity of streaming services is much higher among younger than older people. A majority of children in the age group 12-14 years and adolescents/young adults 16-25 years use YouTube daily, with respective shares of 80 and 72 per cent. Among those over the age of 55, the corresponding proportion is less than 10 per cent.

If we look at the proportion of people watching sometimes, it is clear that watching streaming services is not a typical daily activity. As much as 81 per cent of Internet users state that they watch sometimes. The corresponding figure for Netflix is 58 per cent. This means that more people watch the streaming services of traditional television channels than that of Netflix.

Radio and music services on the Internet
Digital platforms are changing the way we consume audio. Daily listening to AM/FM radio is decreasing, but is still the most common way to access radio. The proportion of Internet users who listen to live radio over the Internet is slowly increasing, as is podcast listening. The Spotify audio service, which includes music as well as podcasts and radio stations, is steadily increasing.

In general, older Internet users listen more to regular radio than younger ones, while younger users listen to podcasts more than older ones. Among adolescents/young adults 16-25 years, 11 per cent listen daily to radio on a conventional radio, 16 per cent to podcasts, and 6 per cent to a radio station on the Internet. Corresponding figures among pensioners are 63 per cent daily listeners of regular radio, 2 per cent of podcasts, and 14 per cent of a radio station on the Internet.

Social media
A majority of Internet users use social media, with 83 per cent using it sometimes and 65 per cent using it daily. The successive increase in daily users since 2010 has stopped.

A look back at previous years’ measurements shows that the proportion of people using Facebook has dropped significantly among people under 25. Among children aged 12-15 years, 4 per cent use Facebook daily, while among adolescents/young adults aged 16-25 this proportion is 61 per cent. Five years ago, 69 per cent of children and 50 per cent among adolescents/young adults used Facebook daily.

Digitisation and media users
The digital media landscape and social media have given us both new media and new opportunities to access media. Digitalisation has also made the media services limitless, and it is becoming increasingly  difficult to determine what defines a text, audio, or video medium, as the digital platforms provide opportunities to produce text, video and sound.
Before digitalisation it was easy to study media habits. However, the new media landscape, with its wider range of different types of media and media content, has contributed to increased differences between the generations. Streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify, as well as social media, now constitute a relatively large proportion of young people’s daily media use.  Admittedly, the services are used in all generations; but the younger ones are more likely to take on something new.

Read more:
The Swedes and the Internet 2019, English summary
Svenskarna och internet 2019, full report in Swedish


About the survey: The Swedes and the Internet is an annual individual survey on Internet use, and was first conducted in 2000. This year’s survey covers February to March, 2019. The principal for the survey is the Swedish Internet Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation that works for a positive development of the Internet. The Swedes and the Internet is the Swedish contribution to the World Internet Project, an international research project that follows the spread and use of the Internet around the world.