Ever hear the phrase “print is dead”? Well if you check with almost 170 million Americans, they’d tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, a recent Nielsen Scarborough study found that more than 169 million adults in the U.S. read a newspaper in a month—whether it be in print, on a website or via mobile app. In total, newspapers reach 69% of the U.S. population in a given month.
Newspapers remain largely a print medium, but the dramatic growth in digital media in recent years has compelled newspaper publishers to re-think their distribution models and become multi-platform content providers. According to the recent study, 81% of monthly newspaper readers engage with the print product, with 51% reading print exclusively. The remaining 49% reads a newspaper on at least one digital platform, with 30% reading both digital and print.
Traditionally, newspaper audiences have been more educated, affluent and older than non-newspaper readers. As digital media have gained in prominence, newspapers have attracted younger readers. Newspaper readers are still educated and affluent, but their ages are more reflective of the general population than they have been in the past. For example, 13% of the U.S. population is 70 or older, and this age group now accounts for 15% of the total monthly newspaper audience.
Compared to previous decades, younger readers now account for a greater percentage of newspaper readers. Notably, Millennials 21-34 make up 25% of the U.S. population and now represent 24% of the total monthly newspaper readership. Based on the shift in age of the newspaper reader, it’s clear that the newspaper industry’s adoption of digital distribution has allowed it to reach adults of all ages.
Despite their growing appeal among younger readers through digital channels, newspapers still maintain an educated and affluent audience. Readers, whether print or digital, are still more likely to be college graduates and have annual household incomes over $100,000 than non-readers. And by broadening their distribution to digital channels, many newspapers have attracted digital readers, who represent an even more affluent and educated segment of readers. In fact, digital newspaper paper readers are 49% more likely than the general adult population to be a college graduate and 43% more likely to have household incomes over $100,000.
There’s no doubt that the newspaper industry has seen its fair share of change and evolution over the past decade or so, some of which has resulted in a loss of confidence from agencies, marketers and even researchers. But based on the recent Nielsen Scarborough survey, it’s clear that newspapers remain a thriving and viable medium, and they continue to engage a larger portion of younger, affluent readers.