COVID-19 sees growth in demand for digital news

30 March 2020

Written by: Bailey Zimmerman

Data has shown a rapid increase in online news consumers over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online news consumption has seen a massive increase of readers over all the top Australian platforms in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Research released by Nielson earlier in the week showed that seven of the ten top online news platforms had an audience of more than 5 million people over the period of a week for each platform.

The Age, The Australian and The ABC all encountered the largest consumer spike over the last week.

Nielson’s Managing Director of Media and Sports, Monique Perry said the day to day changes around the coronavirus laws means Australians are in need of knowing the news as it breaks.

“They want to know what it means for them, their family and their livelihood,” she said.

“Our digital news publishers are providing up to date and relevant information to consumers and the engagement and audience metrics validate this strong and active connection.”

The ABC News websites have encountered the largest audience spike, with a 30 per cent increase in consumers from the week before. ABC Communications tweeted the Nielson findings, saying: “Australia’s need for trusted news and information has rarely been greater.”

After the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said only essential workplaces would be allowed to keep working, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said that the ABC must remain as an essential service throughout the public service lockdown.

Online news publishers have readily adapted to the increase in demand of trusted news throughout the recent weeks.

Platforms that originally have a paywall on their articles such as The Age and The Herald Sun have made their coronavirus updates free to read for any consumer.

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) CEO Gai Le Roy said that the online publishing industry have delivered much needed trusted information to the Australian public.

“Over the last few weeks we have seen media owners develop rich new content offerings that not only include text journalism but podcasts, live streams and many other offerings to keep people up to date,” she said.

“The growth in audience numbers testify that this content is highly valued.”

La Trobe University Professor of Journalism, Lawrie Zion said that people are turning to the news more than ever because what’s happening is “affecting them directly”.


Photo: Laptop computer with newspaper on the screen by Public Domain Vectors  available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.