September 27, 2018

Most Western Europeans prefer TV news while use of print outlets lags

People in Hottot-les-Bagues, France, watch as early results come in from the country’s legislative elections in June 2017. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

People in Western Europe have a clear preference for television as a source of news. And while the use of online and radio outlets for news is also widespread, print news consumption trails far behind the other formats, according to a Pew Research Center survey of eight countries conducted in late 2017.

Across the countries studied – Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom – a median of 70% say they get news at least daily from TV. The platform’s reach is highest in Italy and Spain, where 81% in each country say they get news daily from TV.

TV is the most popular source for news across Western Europe, but online and radio outlets are just as popular in some countriesOnline news consumption is slightly less common: A regional median of 60% get news this way at least daily. But in some countries, the share of people who get news online competes with – or even exceeds – the share who get it through TV.

People in Sweden and Denmark, for example, get news online at about the same or a higher rate as they do from TV. Those in the UK and Netherlands narrowly prefer TV over online news, each with a platform gap of 10 percentage points or less. France and Spain show the clearest preference for TV news over online outlets, each showing a difference of more than 20 points.

While not as common as TV, radio is also a popular news platform in Western Europe. A median of 54% get news from radio at least daily, but there are again differences among the eight countries studied. In Germany and Sweden, radio is about as popular as TV as a daily news source, and in Germany and France, radio is preferred over the web. By contrast, about half of adults or fewer in the UK, Italy and Spain use the radio daily for news.

The least common platform Western Europeans use for news is print, with a median of 30% getting news this way. Print news consumption is highest in Sweden, where 46% of adults say they get news this way. It is lowest in the UK, where 20% do so.

Across Western Europe, a majority of adults get news daily from at least two or more platform typesSimilar to Western Europeans, Americans also display a preference for TV news. In a recent Pew Research Center report on news consumption, half of U.S. adults say they often get TV-based news. Online news, at 45%, was the next most common platform, followed by radio (26% get news daily this way) and print (16%).

While Western Europeans prefer to get news from TV, it’s important to note that they tend to rely on more than one platform. Majorities in all eight Western European countries surveyed get news daily from two or more platform types. And in some countries, including Sweden and Germany, around half of adults get news daily from three or four different platforms.

Note: Newly released topline results can be found here (PDF). See also full methodology and previously released topline results (PDF).

Topics: Western Europe, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Europe, News Interest, News Sources, News Media Sectors

  1. Photo of Katerina Eva Matsa

    is an associate director of journalism research at Pew Research Center.