April 21, 2020

It’s official: Online sources overtake TV as main source of news – for 59% of Gen Z social media is their main choice of news

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 8377
RMR Logo

The internet has overtaken TV as the main place Australians turn for their news. 12.7 million Australians (60.6%, up 2.8ppts from 57.8% in mid-2018) now use the internet including:

  • social media - 37.6%;
  • news or newspaper websites or apps - 29.2%;
  • news feed sites such as Google News, Apple News and Flipboard - 16.3% (up 3.7ppts and the largest increase for any of the online sources of news);
  • email subscriptions or updates - 8.9%;
  • magazines (printed, website or app) - 5.2%; and
  • other websites or apps - 5.6%.

Now just behind is TV, used by 12.4 million (59.5%) – down more than 6ppts from 65.6% including:

  • Free-to-air TV – 56.4% (down 5.9ppts); and
  • Pay TV such as Foxtel’s Sky/BBC/CNN/Fox News etc. – 8.3%.

Free-to-air TV continues to be the main source of news for older generations, while the internet and social media dominate for Millennials and Generation Z

TV is a main source of news for around three-fifths of Australians and this is built on the strength of free-to-air TV as a source of news for Australians aged in their mid-forties and above.

Around 80% of Baby Boomers and Pre-Boomers say free-to-air TV is a main source of news for them, and nearly two-thirds of Generation X (64%) nominate free-to-air TV as a main news source – higher than any other channel. However, the popularity of free-to-air TV drops away significantly for younger generations. Only 40% of Millennials and 36% of Generation Z say free-to-air TV is a main source of news.

In contrast to the older generations, both Millennials (77%) and Generation Z (74%) are more likely to say the internet is a main source of news, ahead of other forms of media including free-to-air TV. The leading source of news online for younger generations is social media, mentioned by 59% of Generation Z and 50% of Millennials.

Print newspapers are still an important source of news for older Australians

Print newspapers are the second ranked source of news for Pre-Boomers (54%) and third ranked source of news for Baby Boomers (41%). But newspapers in their traditional format rank below free-to-air TV, radio and social media for Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, says the way we consume news is in the spotlight as Australia faces the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘The internet has overtaken TV to become the main source of news for Australians. However, within these broader categories, free-to-air TV is used by 57.6% as a source of news far ahead of second-placed radio (42.4%) and social media (37.6%) in third.

“Free-to-air TV is the best way to reach Australians in Gen X, Baby Boomers and Pre-Boomers who are now aged in their mid-forties and above, while radio is the second best channel to reach Baby Boomers and those in Gen X.

“Many see the biggest challenge surrounding dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as getting the message through to younger generations who may feel the virus doesn’t pose a real threat to them. The internet is the primary source of news for around three-quarters of Millennials and Gen Z, far higher than other channels, and social media is the best channel to use to reach younger Australians.

“As we explored last week, different social media channels offer the way to reach optimal numbers of Australians within each generation – led by Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. See more detail on top social media channels here.”

Main Sources of News in 2020 compared to June 2018

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source March 2019 – February 2020, n=13,267, July 2017 – June 2018,n=14,920. Base: Australians 14+. *TV including Free-to-Air TV (11.8 million, 56.4%) and Pay TV (1.7 million, 8.3%). Respondents were able to nominate more than one ‘main source of news’.

Main Sources of News by Generations – February 2020

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source March 2019 – February 2020, n = 20,880. Base: Australians 14+.

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

Related Findings

Back to top
Back To Top Arrow