People in the Nordic countries are among Europe’s most avid users of smartphones for reading news online. They are also the most willing to pay for online news. These are some of the findings in the Digital News Report 2017, which compares online news consumption in 36 countries, including Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has published its sixth annual report, looking to track and compare changes in online news consumption across countries.
Its scope has been expanded from 26 to 36 countries. The key focus is Europe, even though, e.g., Canada, South Korea, the US, Brazil and Japan are also included.
Sweden at the top in using smartphone for news
Mobile marches on, outstripping computer access for news in an increasing number of countries. In Sweden, already last year it was more common to access news from a smartphone than from a computer or laptop; in 2017, this is also true for Denmark and Norway.
In Sweden, almost seven of ten use their smartphone to read news, which puts the country at the top of the European list. In Denmark and Norway, around six of ten use a smartphone to access news each week, which ranks them among the top ten European countries as well.
In Finland, the only Nordic country where the computer is still the most used way of reading online news, the share of mobile users for news is slightly lower.
Devices for news 2017 (per cent)
Survey question: Which, if any, of the following devices have you used to access news in the last week? Base: Total sample in each country. All: Total sample across the study. Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017 (interactive).
As for other mobile devices, around one-third of Nordic news consumers use a tablet for news, making them the most avid users in the survey, with Denmark in the lead across the survey’s total sample. Norway and Sweden rank second and third.
Branded websites starting point for the Nordics
Patterns of online news access differ across the countries. People in the Nordic countries and the UK are more likely to go directly to a website or app, while those in other countries prefer a search engine or social media as the key gateway to news. The most popular websites or apps for news in the Nordic countries are legacy media brands, e.g. national dailies or major broadcasting networks (public service and commercial).
Facebook dominates social media news
Across the study, half say they use social media as a source of news each week, which is also true for Denmark, Norway and Sweden, while in Finland the level is slightly lower.
Facebook is by far the most important network for finding, reading/ watching, and sharing news in all countries in the study; the Nordic countries are no exception to this. Despite a small decrease in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in 2017, Facebook maintains a dominant position (highest in Norway with 41 per cent, lowest in Finland with 35 per cent).
Among the countries’ top five social media for news, Facebook is followed by other global networks. Again Finland is the exception, with a domestic chat/discussion forum, Suomi24, ranking fifth, with 5 per cent using it to read news every week.
Norway has the highest level of online payment
Most consumers are still reluctant to pay for news online. Across all countries only one in ten pays for online news, but the Nordic countries stand out as the most willing to pay.
In Norway, 26 per cent have paid for online news in the past year, which puts Norway at the top of international comparisons. Sweden (20 per cent), Denmark and Finland (15 and 14 per cent, respectively) have among the highest level of online payment as well. It should be noted, however, that the share paying for digital news in the Nordic region did not grow from the year before.
Looking at ongoing digital news subscriptions, the Nordic countries top the European ranking. Norway has the highest rate (15 per cent), followed by Sweden, Denmark and Finland (12, 10 and 7 per cent, respectively). To a large extent, this is the result of newspaper subscriptions that combine print and web.
More key findings
Read the full report to learn more about key findings, such as: wide variation in trust in news media (highest trust in Finland); the growth of ad blocking has stopped (around one in four in the Nordic region uses ad blockers); and people are more likely to pay for access to online video and audio services than they are to pay for online news (again, the Norwegians are most willing to pay).
Country reports in national languages:
Denmark: Danskernes brug av nyhedsmedier 2017, RUC Roskilde University (in Danish), including Nordic comparisons
Finland: Uutismedia verkossa 2017: Suomen maaraportti, University of Tampere (in Finnish)
Norway: Bruksmønstre for digitale nyheter (PDF), University of Bergen (in Norwegian)
Important to note about the survey sample: Because this survey deals with news consumption, anyone indicating they had not consumed any news during the past month was filtered out. The report is based on an online survey, and as such the results will underrepresent the consumption habits of people who are not online (typically older, less affluent, and with limited formal education). The core purpose of the survey is to track activities and changes over time within the digital space – as well as to gain an understanding of how offline and online media are used together. The research was conducted by YouGov, using an online questionnaire, at the end of January/beginning of February 2017.