Voice of the Customer

News publishers are increasing the amount of content they circulate in video form, but audiences prefer reading text, a study has found.

Fewer than one in ten users regularly access video content, according to a survey of 30 companies across Europe and North America by the Reuters Institute.

Only seven per cent of readers using the Guardian website and app over a one-month period accessed video content. Over a two-month period, only 11 per cent of users of the BBC News app and BBC website chose to watch videos.

The study suggests that video content was being pushed by publishers wishing to modernise, rather than due to demand from consumers.

Only 2.5 per cent of time using online news platforms was spent watching video content, while the remaining 97.5 per cent was spent reading text, according to the companies interviewed.

78 per cent of readers from 26 countries said they only occasionally or never used video news, according to the report, which was published by the Reuters Institute earlier this month.

However, of the senior digital news leaders interviewed by the Reuters Institute, 79 per cent said they would be investing in further video content over the next year. Large organisations are currently planning initiatives based on this growing news format, including the BBC’s Ten to Watch.

Other news outlets are hesitant to commit to the developing trend, as the large financial investment required is potentially unjustifiable considering the current poor commercial return.

Monetisation of online video content is a prevalent issue. The survey suggests user experience has been compromised by the implementation of pre-roll ads, which is reflected in the low numbers accessing videos. Nevertheless, the number of people who watch news videos does increase when a high-profile story breaks.

For example, at the time of the Paris attacks the BBC experienced an increase in time spent watching videos on their website from 10 per cent on any given day to 22 per cent immediately after the events.

News organisations interviewed said the majority of their views come from social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter rather than directly from their sites.

The Reuters Institute also found that the most popular type of video for news is less than a minute long and uses subtitles rather than sound to relay information.

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