Bad news for members of the newspaper industry that expect to use digital media to save their print editions. A recent survey from the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) shows that iPad owners are more likely to read news on their iPad than a printed newspaper. RJI surveyed over 1,600 iPad owners and asked them about their usage habits, especially as it concerns reading and news consumption.
Not unexpectedly, 84.4% of iPad owners primarily use their iPad to follow breaking news and current events. As a result, newspaper subscriptions, once the staple of the newspaper industry, are being cannibalized by the iPad. Slightly more than 30% of iPad owners do not subscribe to a newspaper, preferring to consume news on their tablet device. Of the 931 respondents that have a newspaper subscription and read an hour's worth of news each day on their iPad, more than half (58.1%) intend to cancel their newspaper subscriptions within six months. A growing 10.7% have already canceled their subscription and have switched to iPad-only reading.
This is not the first time we have seen similar headlines. James Murdoch, head of News Corp's Asian/European operations, confirmed that iPhone and iPad apps were "much more cannibalistic" than websites when it came to newspaper subscriptions. This deleterious effect is seen even at big-name websites like the Wall Street Journal and the Times of London.
While this trend may ultimately curtail print editions, it also creates a new distribution method for those newspapers willing to move out of their comfort zone. Several large newspapers, including the WSJ, The New York TImes, and the London-based City A.M., are making that transition and have released iPad apps. Those that have not embraced the iPad may be encouraged to adopt this medium when Apple rolls out support for subscription-based pricing, a feature expected to debut in iOS 4.3.