7 in 10 S'poreans consume SPH content and many are willing to pay for access, survey shows

The findings revealed that digital readership has overtaken the consumption of hard-copy newspapers. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Seven in 10 Singaporeans consume one or more types of content across Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) platforms - print, digital, radio or magazines - each week, with a significant number willing to pay to access this content.

SPH news properties across print, Web, ePaper and app are read weekly by over three in five (64 per cent) of the population, defined as people aged 15 and over, with The Straits Times enjoying the highest weekly reach (44 per cent), followed by Lianhe Zaobao (17 per cent) and The Business Times (11 per cent).

These are the key findings of research company GfK, as part of an inaugural bi-annual study commissioned by SPH.

The study, conducted from December 2020 to April this year among 1,500 individuals, seeks to understand changes to the audience profile, 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 survey, but has an additional element of actual behaviour such as digital usage.

While ST remains the most read local daily across its formats among the general population in Singapore, the study further shows specific segments that continue to form affinity with SPH's different content offerings, said SPH and GfK in a media release on Thursday (Sept 2).

For example, BT has a higher proportion of professionals, managers, executives and businessmen (PMEB) and affluent readers.

ST has a higher proportion of millennials and Gen X, while SPH's Chinese news properties enjoy higher readership among grocery buyers and baby boomers.

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."

Willingness to pay for content

The study also shows a a sizeable proportion of audiences who are willing to pay to access SPH content.

Over a third (35 per cent) of all SPH newspaper readers are currently subscribers. ST and BT enjoy the highest subscription rate (hard copy or ePaper) - both at 45 per cent - among their readership base.

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/Minggu (66 per cent) buy their copies from a news-stand.

Increased digital readership

The 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.

Lianhe Zaobao, the top Chinese language newspaper in Singapore, now has an almost equal number of weekly readers on 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.

Each week, over a third (34 per cent) visit The Straits Times, making it SPH's most visited digital news platform.

Other top SPH digital news properties visited include AsiaOne, Lianhe Zaobao, BT, The New Paper and Stomp.

The study also showed there are more readers going directly to the publications' official websites or apps to access the news, than those referred through social media links.

Positive perception of SPH offerings

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 it to be a convenient one-stop source for breaking news, business, sports, lifestyle, tech and multimedia and other news locally and internationally.

Additionally, two-thirds (66 per cent) found the content 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 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 have continued to attract them to our publications and continually engage with us across our myriad of platforms, despite many other free options especially on news.

"This is further validated by a substantial base of respondents who trust in advertised brands when they appear in our newspapers."

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