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Online News Comsumption: Video Vs Text (and Text is Winning)

Contrary to what media consultants, gurus and the like may have been saying, text, not video, is still the preferred medium for accessing and consuming news among the 18-29 age bracket (the so-called “millennials”).

online-news-video-and-text-consumption

The findings come from the Pew Research Center, but also Reuters Institute published a report outlining similar findings:

Website users in particular remain resistant to online video news with only around 2.5% of average visit time spent on video pages in a range of 30 online news sites; 97.5% of time is still spent with text. Around 75% of respondents to a Reuters Institute survey of 26 countries said they only occasionally (or never) use video news online.

Why do people prefer text over video?

Well, no surprises here. According to respondents in a survey conducted by the Reuters Institute, the main reason (41% respondents) was that reading text was “quicker and more convenient”. But I think we could come up with a lot more reasons, easily:

  • Text is quotable and more easily shareable
  • Text is accesible to people with disabilities
  • Most videos don’t have subtitles, forcing me to turn up the volume / stop listening to music or whatever I was doing.
  • Video demands full attention, text is easily scannable and can be consumed at my own pace.
  • With text I can easily keep switching tabs to attend other matters, then come back and keep reading.
  • Most people avoid streaming video on their mobile phones due to low data plans
  • Most of the time, video doesn’t add any value to the information. See this one as an example.

In order to see what kind of videos would work in online news, we should take a look at what works outside online news sites. According to the same RI report:

We find that the most successful off-site and social videos tend to be short (under one minute), are designed to work with no sound (with subtitles), focus on soft news, and have a strong emotional element.

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