How Millennials Get News: Paying for Content

The Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and the AP-NORC Center, examines Millennials’ use of paid content for entertainment and news.

Despite growing up with an abundance of free online entertainment and news, today’s young adults still use significant amounts of paid content. Selling news to young people remains difficult, but the data from a new study of Millennials finds reasons for optimism and suggests new ways to think about the challenge.

The vast majority of Millennials, those Americans age 18 to 34, regularly use paid content for entertainment or news, according to the report. Moreover, a younger adult’s willingness to pay for news is correlated with his or her broader beliefs about the value of news. The Millennials who want to stay connected with the world, who are interested in news, and who are more engaged with news on social networks are the most likely to be willing to personally pay for news.

The basic findings of the report—Millennials do regularly use and often personally pay for news content—challenge the notion that Millennials believe everything on the web must be free. But the report shows there are still significant obstacles that will make a paid or subscription model a challenge for publishers looking to reach the next generation of news consumers.

This study was conducted by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the American Press Institute (API) and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. A nationwide survey of 1,045 adults age 18-34 was conducted from January 5 through February 2, 2015. In addition to the survey, the research included 10 semi-structured, in-person interviews with small groups of Millennials to understand their news habits.