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Survey: Phone Is Device of Choice For News Audiences

Americans increasingly consume their news via mobile devices rather than at their desktops, though they spend more time online when they are on their computers, according to the Pew Research Center’s 12th annual “State of the News Media” report.

Thirty-nine of the top 50 digital news sites get more traffic via mobile, the Pew organization found in analyzing comScore data.

The top digital sites for U.S. consumers were USA Today with 54.5 million unique visitors a month, the New York Times (54 million), the Daily Mail (51.1 million), Washington Post (47.8 million), The Guardian (28.1 million), the New York Daily News (25.9 million), the Los Angeles Times (25.2 million), the New York Post (22.9 million), the San Francisco Chronicle (19 million) and the Telegraph of London (16.7 million.)

The non-profit research study covered a wide range of news outlets and platforms. It found that the audience for cable news programs continues to shrink, while viewership of network news made a slight rebound for the second year in a row.

Pew found that the total median viewership for a 24-hour period dropped 7% in 2014 to 1.8 million for Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC combined. It derived the figure via a Nielsen Media Research data. It was the first audience decline by the day-long measure since 2010. MSNBC lost the most ground, declining 14% decline to a median of 334,000 viewers. Fox dipped 2% to 1.1 million viewers and CNN up 1% to 417,000.

Still, all three of the cablers managed revenue growth in 2014, led by Fox News, up 6% to $2.04 billion, and followed by CNN, with a 3% hike to $1.13 billion, and MSNBC, down 1% to $501 million in receipts.

The three commercial broadcast networks saw audience growth in 2014, with evening newscasts up for the second year running and morning newscasts also on the rise. Both ABC and CBS enjoyed improved financial performance, while NBC declined, the Pew report said.

The study showed that the ubiquity of digital devices continues to alter the public’s viewing and listening habits. The number of Americans listening to radio online some time in the prior month increased to 53%. That was compared with just 27% who said they had listened to radio online in 2010. Podcast downloads also jumped markedly — from 38 million downloads a month in 2013 to 54 million downloads in 2014.

Some traditional media continued to struggle. The L.A. Weekly had the distinction of having the biggest circulation of any alternative weekly in America. But its 114,000 copy figure — 4,000 ahead of its sister publication, the Village Voice — was still an 18% decline from the year prior.

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