Seven in 10 Singaporeans consume one or more types of content across Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) platforms - print, digital, radio or magazines - a new survey has found.
The Straits Times (ST) - in print, e-paper and online formats - remains the most widely accessed title, read by 44 per cent of people aged 15 and above in Singapore.
More than three in four of these readers - 76 per cent - read ST online, making it SPH's most visited digital news platform, while 33 per cent read a physical newspaper copy, and 10 per cent read the e-paper.
There is some degree of overlap.
Readers who access ST's digital offerings on its website or app predominantly do so through their smartphones (72 per cent), much more than on a computer (26 per cent) or tablet (13 per cent).
These are the key findings of global research company GfK in an inaugural biannual study commissioned by SPH.
The study shows that ST's readers are shifting online and readership continues to cut across all age groups, in similar proportions to their share of the population. ST's combined offerings are also accessed by a higher proportion of millennials and Gen X readers compared with their share of the population.
ST is also a news source that is referred to by readers in general. Most visitors to all the other online news properties here - Channel NewsAsia, Today, Mothership.SG, AsiaOne, Yahoo News and The Business Times (BT) - also read ST.
The findings come as ST's website and apps recently bagged a gold award at this year's Digital Media Awards Asia in the Best News Website or Mobile Service category.
The website, mobile and tablet apps took on a new look last October, with a slew of new offerings that focus on multimedia content and trending topics.
ST digital subscription deal gives readers 50% off for the first year
Readers can enjoy 50 per cent off the first year of subscribing to The Straits Times (ST) under the latest One Digital subscription deal, paying only $4.95 a month.
Stay abreast of the latest developments in Covid-19, climate change and current affairs at home and abroad with ST.
Readers will pay for the first 12 months in one go and be able to access all of the paper's content through one Web browser and ST app at the same time.
The specials include the Invest section on Sunday, which spotlights jobs and personal finance tips, and the News Focus section on Saturday - with analyses in Asian Insider, where ST's overseas bureaus break down the big regional stories, and in Insight, which examines issues that affect Singaporeans.
Those who prefer reading the print newspaper can also do so in an environmentally friendly way with the daily e-paper.
A two-week news archive lets readers catch up on news that they may have missed.
Readers under the annual plan will be billed $59.40 for the first year.
Subscription will be $118.90 a year from the subsequent year. This translates into $9.90 each month, similar to the monthly plan, which costs $9.90 a month with no contract.
Nearly 1,000 readers have subscribed to the One Digital plan, which was launched last month.
Readers can subscribe to the ST One Digital package at stsub.sg/one
This revamp was part of ST's continuing efforts to refresh its digital and print products, and was launched to mark its 175th anniversary last year.
Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH's English/Malay/ Tamil Media Group and editor of The Straits Times, said: "The survey provides useful insights into our audience, their needs and wants, especially the shift to digital.
"More people are reading The Straits Times than ever before across platforms, and this cuts across all segments of our society, both young and old. We have to work hard to stay connected with and strive to keep engaging and serving our audience well."
The latest findings by GfK also noted that other SPH titles held steady, with the Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao read by 17 per cent of people across platforms, and BT read by 11 per cent of people here.
The inaugural study, conducted from last December to April among 1,500 individuals, seeks to understand audience profile changes, given the proliferation of multiple media platforms, products and formats.
Two waves of surveys will be conducted annually with up to 3,000 individuals, selected to ensure accurate representation of the population.
The study does not just collect information through claimed behaviour based on recall or surveys, but includes an additional element of actual behaviour, such as digital usage.
While ST remains the most read local daily across its formats among the population here, the study further shows specific segments that continue to form an affinity with SPH's different content offerings, SPH and GfK said.
For example, BT has a higher proportion of professionals, managers, executives and businessmen as well as the affluent among its readers.
SPH chief commercial officer Ignatius Low said: "In a market where synergistic effort is valued to create impact for advertisers, SPH's plethora of media offerings enables the various types of media to form synergy.
"As SPH experiments with more synergised media products to value-add and amplify our advertisers' campaign efforts, the insights derived from this study will guide us in identifying new opportunities and areas to develop."
The study also shows that a sizeable proportion of audiences are willing to pay to access SPH content. More than a third (35 per cent) of all SPH newspaper readers are currently subscribers.
ST and BT enjoy the highest subscription rate (hard copy or e-paper) - both at 45 per cent - among their readership base.
The new chairman of the SPH Media Trust, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, yesterday outlined plans to accelerate the digital transformation of the newsrooms and provide audiences with a richer experience. He urged the SPH newsrooms to press ahead with digitalisation more decisively and grow digital subscriptions aggressively.
The survey findings revealed that digital readership has overtaken the consumption of hard-copy newspapers for ST and BT. Both have more weekly readers for their digital versions than for print.
Buying the physical print copy continues to be the preferred mode of access for vernacular titles. Two-thirds or more of the readers of Tamil Murasu (72 per cent), Lianhe Wanbao (70 per cent), Shin Min Daily News (71 per cent), and Berita Harian/Berita Minggu (66 per cent) buy their copies from a news-stand.
Lianhe Zaobao, the top Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore, now has an almost equal number of weekly readers of its digital and hard-copy versions.
Across all the 479 news digital sites passively tracked by GfK digital metering for the study, SPH's digital news sites were accessed by 47 per cent of the population at least once a week.
More than one-third (34 per cent) visited ST. Other top SPH digital news properties visited include Lianhe Zaobao, BT, The New Paper and Stomp.
The study also showed that there are more readers going directly to the publications' official websites or apps to access the news, compared with readers referred through social media links.
There is also an overall positive perception of SPH's news content and offerings.
Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of the population agreed that SPH news publications produce reliable news and content, and 71 per cent also perceived SPH to be a convenient one-stop source for breaking news, business, sports, lifestyle, tech and multimedia as well as other local and international news.
Additionally, two-thirds (66 per cent) of the population found the content of SPH news publications relevant to their community.
GfK's commercial director Lee Risk said: "GfK findings confirm that locally produced news content tends to draw consumers to SPH's platforms and notably, it remains the preferred choice of news outlet for many readers in spite of the multitude of digital news sources and channels out there."
SPH's Mr Low said: "The significant level of trust, confidence and reliability that we have successfully built among our readers over the years has continued to attract them to our publications and they continually engage with us across our myriad platforms, despite many other free options, especially for news."