The UK loves traditional news brands online, but readers don't want to pay

Lynsey Barber
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News brands are still popular online (Source: Getty)

Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and other digital-only media companies continue to grow but have a way to go to overtake the digital readership of traditional news brand websites in the UK, a new study has shown.

Traditional news media such as the BBC and Daily Mail still dominates digital news consumption, showing that the well established UK news media is successfully attracting readers in a rapidly changing landscape compared to other countries. - but few are prepared to pay for their online news.

The study by Reuters Institute of Digital Journalism and YouGov polled more than 18,000 people in 10 countries.

The number of people who have paid for online news in the last year has dropped slightly from nine per cent in 2013 to seven per cent in 2014.

In fact, UK audiences are the least likely to have paid to read digital news of the 10 countries polled.

Of those who have paid for online news, over one-third have signed up with The Times, followed by the Telegraph and the Sun which both introduced paywalls in 2013.

However, younger people are paying for news online in greater numbers.

Of those who hadn't paid for online news, seven per cent said they were likely to in the future and 91 per cent unlikely.

An overview of the top UK news brands shows the success of digital versions of the traditional news with the BBC, Daily Mail and Sky News at the top. The only traditional news media with metering is the Telegraph which comes mid-level. The Sun, the only traditional news media with a paywall (The Times failed to rank) is even less popular on just two per cent.

Reuters Institute director of research Robert G. Picard summarises in the report: "The growing range of business models in digital news provision suggests the industry will be much more segmented than in the past.

"It is likely there will be a mass-market tier of providers based on free and premium content, as well as a more niche group creating high value for smaller groups of well-paying subscribers."

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