March 16, 2015 Last Updated 12:14 pm

API research shows Millennials often subscribe to entertainment, but rarely do so for news

Survey of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 34 finds respondents reluctant to pay for news services, believing them ‘a civic right’

The American Press Institute has released the results of a study into the news habits of American between the age of 18 and 34 — Millennials, in other words. How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation is the result of research conducted and written by the Media Insight Project — an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.


TNM readers can find the PDF of the report here, and while there is much good information inside the report, I’d like to point out one finding, in particular.

According to the authors of the report, young adults do pay for content, though only a small portion are willing to pay for access to news and information.

“Contrary to the stereotype that digital natives believe everything on the web should be free, the great majority of this generation use subscription services of some kind,” the reports says.

“Overall, 93 percent of Millennials used some kind of subscription in the past year, and 87 percent personally paid for at least one service. And 40 percent paid for at least one news-specific service, app, or digital subscription themselves.”

But while 53 percent of those surveyed paid to download, rent, or stream movies or television shows in the past year through services such as iTunes or Netflix, only 19 percent said they have paid for a subscription service for eBooks or audiobooks in the past year.


“When it comes to paying for the news,” the report continues, “40 percent of Millennials report paying for at least one subscription themselves, including a digital news app (14 percent), a digital magazine (11 percent), a digital subscription to a newspaper (10 percent), or a paid email newsletter (9 percent). When subscriptions used but paid for by others are added, that number rises to 53 percent who have used some type of paid subscription for news in the last year.”

The report finds that Millennials are not so down on print as many might think, reporting that “21 percent say they have paid in the last year for a subscription to a print magazine, and 16 percent for a print newspaper, rates that are higher than for digital versions of the same products.”

“News publishers also may have some work to do in the digital space when it comes to subscriptions. In the qualitative interviews, we heard the notion that, because news is important for democracy, people feel they should not have to pay for it. It should be more of a civic right because it is a civic good.”

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