More Republicans watch Fox News regularly

Study: Americans spend more time with news thanks to digital

NEW YORK -- While cable news networks remain a key source of information for consumers, only Fox News has maintained its share of people who watch it regularly, and the reason is that more Republicans regularly get their news there. So says a new study.

It also found that thanks to digital media, Americans are spending more time with the news today than over much of the past decade, but they enjoy keeping up with the news less.

The findings are part of the biennial news consumption survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 8-28 among about 3,000 adults and released on Sunday.

"Digital platforms are playing a larger role in news consumption, and they seem to be more than making up for modest declines in the audience for traditional platforms," Pew said. "As a result, the average time Americans spend with the news on a given day is as high as it was in the mid-1990s, when audiences for traditional news sources were much larger."

Roughly 34% of the people surveyed went online for news yesterday – slightly higher than daily newspapers. When including cell phones, email, social networks and podcasts, the figure rises to 44%.

TV has maintained its news appeal, and most consumers have not blocked out traditional media. Only 9% of Americans got news via Internet and mobile sources without also using traditional media.

As was the case in 2000, people said they spend 57 minutes on average getting the news from TV, radio or newspapers on a given day. Adding in the 13 minutes spent with news online, the 70 minutes total is "one of the highest totals on this measure since the mid-1990s," according to Pew.

Meanwhile, the proportion of people saying that they regularly watch CNN, MSNBC and CNBC has slipped "substantially" from two years ago during the last presidential election, it said. "Only Fox News has maintained its audience size, and this is because of the increasing number of Republicans who regularly get news there." After all, 40% of Republicans now say they regularly watch Fox News, up from 36% two years ago and just 18% a decade ago. As recently as 2002, Republicans were about as likely to watch CNN (28%) as Fox News (25%). Meanwhile, the share of Democrats who regularly watch CNN or Fox News fell from 2008.

Overall, the percentage of Americans who say keeping up with the news is something they enjoy a lot has dropped though. This year, only 45% said so, compared with a consistent 52% in recent biennial surveys. Pew cited political underpinnings of this trend as well. In 2008, about 67% of liberal Democrats enjoyed the news a lot, compared with only 45% now, it said.

Among conservative Republicans, the share was nearly steady at 57% now versus 56% then.