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Home > Trends & Numbers > Newspaper Websites > Newspaper Web Audience

Newspaper Web Audience

By Jim Conaghan, NAA vice president of research & industry analysis

Download a PDF of the full report.

Executive Briefing

The audience engaged with newspaper digital content reached a new peak in August 2014, totaling 164 million unique visitors, an 18% increase from August a year ago.

Data from the media measurement firm comScore also revealed:

  • Eight in 10 (80%) of U.S. adults who were online in August accessed newspaper digital content, also a new peak.
  • Over the past year, young women (ages 18-24) were the fastest-growing segment of the newspaper digital audience, rising 38%.
  • More than nine in 10 (92%) women ages 25-34 read newspaper digital content, the greatest reach among any age or gender.
  • Those who use only mobile devices—smartphones or tablets—to access newspaper digital media now exceed those who use only desktop/laptop computers and those who used both kinds of machines during the month.

This report offers insights into the significant expansion in the newspaper digital audience over the past 12 months. As new mobile devices gain traction in the consumer marketplace, newspaper digital media will have even more opportunities to grow audience and to offer advertisers more ways to reach their customers.

Audience and Reach

The newspaper digital audience increased by 18% over the past twelve months, rising to 164 million unique visitors (adults 18+) from 139 million in August 2013 (see chart). That audience level was 25 million larger than a year ago.

The previous peak level for the newspaper digital audience occurred in March of this year, at 161 million unique visitors. After a seasonal decline to 153 million unique visitors in June, the audience count grew in July (to 155 million) and again in August (to 157 million).

Newspaper Unique Visitors August 2014 

Along with the rise in unique visitors, the proportion of the total online audience reached by newspaper digital platforms has grown. Eight in 10 adults engaged with newspaper digital content in August 2014. That compares with a reach of two-thirds (65%) of adults in June 2013.

Net Reach Newspaper Digital Audience August 2014 

The reach of newspaper digital content was highest among those ages 25-34 (85%). More than eight in 10 are also reached among those in the 35-44 and 45-54 age segments. Both the oldest group (55+) and the youngest group (18-24) have lower reach levels, at 77% and 72%, respectively.

Age Net Reach Newspaper Digital Audience August 2014 

A more detailed look at the net reach data by probing age and gender together sheds additional light on the newspaper digital audience.

Percent Change Unique Visitors Newspaper Websites August 2014 

The fastest-growing segment of the newspaper digital audience over the past 12 months has been with young women, age 18-24, which increased 38%. The groups next highest in growth were men 35-44 and men 45-54, which rose 31% each.

The number of older women, those age 55 and over, using newspaper digital content increased by 21%, above the overall gain reflected in the total adult figure (+18%). The remaining age/gender segments grew at or below the overall rate of increase.

Different growth rates for age and gender segments over time translate into different levels of net reach for newspaper digital media enterprises. Newspaper digital media have the highest reach among women ages 25-34, with more than nine in 10 (92%) engaged with that content in August 2014. The next highest reach levels are among men 45-54 (86%) and men 35-44 (84%). The remaining age/gender segments are at or below the overall 80% net reach level. 

Net Reach Newspaper

Mobile Device Use Surges

Within the comScore dataset, reporting enables analysts to make audience distinctions between those who use only desktop or laptops for their online access, those who use only mobile devices—smartphones or tablets–for their access, and those who use both desktops/laptops and mobile devices during the month.

Percent Change in Unique VisitorsMobile devices are clearly providing a significant boost to the newspaper digital audience. Those who use only mobile devices for their newspaper digital access more than doubled in the past year, with their unique visitor count rising 102%. In contrast, the audience that uses only desktop or laptop machines for newspaper digital access dropped by 16%. Those who used both mobile and non-mobile grew by 48% (see table).

As a result of the large increase among those using only mobile for newspaper digital access, that group is now the biggest piece of the three segments, representing 38% of the total. The desktop/laptop group is 34% of the total and those who use both kinds of access platforms are 28% of the total. 

Digital Audience Composition 

As was reflected in the overall audience data, young women 18-24 are the segment with the largest increase in using only mobile devices for their newspaper digital access. Compared with August 2013, the number of young women engaged with newspaper digital content only via mobile surged 204% (see chart). Men 35-44 showed the next highest increase (+188%), followed by men 45-54 (+163%). Women age 55 and over and men 25-34 also showed above-average increases, at 122% and 119% respectively. 

 Percent Change Newspaper Age Gender August 2014

Data Source

This report is based on an analysis of data gathered from more 300 U.S. newspapers by the media measurement firm comScore through its Media Metrix Multi-Platform and Mobile Metrix services. This measurement is reported as a custom entity, called NAA Aggregate, in the newspaper section of comScore’s database. ComScore launched multiplatform measurements — which show combined mobile and desktop, and mobile-exclusive users — in March 2013. These numbers offer an unduplicated count of the total digital audience, meaning that a visitor is counted once, even when they access content on different computers or devices. The audience that newspaper media generates with their print products are not a part of this report.

Download a PDF of the full report.

First Published: October 23, 2014