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2015 RJI Mobile Media Research Report 4

Owners of large-screen smartphones (phablets) are much more likely than owners of standard-size smartphones to frequently use multiple approaches to access news organization content on their smartphones, according to the latest Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute mobile media poll. The survey also found that smartphone owners between the ages of 18 and 44 were much more likely than older owners to frequently get news in multiple ways.

Participants were asked to rank on a scale of one to five, with one equal to never and five equal to very frequently, how often they had used each of five common approaches to accessing news content on their smartphones in the week prior to taking the survey. 

The five common approaches included in the survey were:

  • Directly to news organization websites
  • Directly to news organization content using their smartphone apps
  • Indirectly through links provided by social media users
  • Indirectly through links in e-mail messages
  • Indirectly by stumbling onto news stories of interest while using smartphone for non-news activities

Screen-size difference

Fifty-four percent of phablet owners and 31 percent of standard smartphone owners said they had used two or more approaches. Twenty-seven percent of phablet owners and only nine percent of standard smartphone owners used four or more approaches. One-third (34 percent) of phablet owners and more than half (56 percent) of standard smartphone owners used none of the approaches.

Age difference

Sixty-one percent of all smartphone owners ages 18 to 44 and 25 percent of owners ages 45 or older said they used two or more approaches. Twenty-nine percent of all smartphone owners ages 18 to 44 and only seven percent of owners ages 45 or older used four or more approaches. Twenty-six percent of all smartphone owners ages 18 to 44 and 63 percent of owners ages 45 or older used none of the approaches.

One-third of all smartphone owners surveyed said they had frequently or very frequently accessed news organization content indirectly either through social media links provided by friends or other users or just by stumbling onto news stories of interest while using their smartphone for non-news activities. The difference between phablet owners and standard smartphone owners was about 20 percentage points in each case.

The age difference was even greater. Fifty-five percent of all smartphone owners ages 18 to 44 and 17 percent of owners ages 45 or older said they frequently or very frequently got news stories of interest indirectly from social media links. The percentages were about the same for owners who said they frequently or very frequently stumbled onto stories of interest.

The results for all five approaches can be found in the slides above.

In a follow-up question, participants were asked to rank their agreement with the statement that “The size of my smartphone’s screen makes news easy to read.” As might be expected, two-thirds (67 percent) of phablet owners said they somewhat or strongly agreed as opposed to 29 percent for standard smartphone owners. The difference between the 18 to 44 and 45 or older age groups was about the same.

This survey was conducted for RJI in June 2015 by Ipsos, one of the world’s largest independent market research companies. It included 1,001 adults from all 50 states who owned smartphones. Forty-one percent indicated that they had a large-screen smartphone (phablet). Tablets were used by 53 percent of phablet owners and 39 percent of standard smartphone owners. Personal computers (desktop or laptop) were used by 69 percent of phablet owners and 73 percent of standard smartphone owners.

Roger Fidler  
 
Program Director for Digital Publishing (Retired)



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