The Straits Times continues to be Singapore's most-read news publication, with more than 1.2 million readers consuming its content across its print, online and mobile and other platforms.
Google Analytics figures showed a close to 40 per cent increase in the number of users in Singapore on ST's online site between June and last month, partly due to the rise in interest in events in Hong Kong, as well as several local issues.
These findings were made public yesterday by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which publishes ST, in the light of the annual Nielsen Consumer and Media View Study (CMV). It showed a 3.5 percentage-point fall in ST's overall readership from 32.4 per cent of Singaporeans above 15 years old last year to 28.9 per cent this year. This was largely due to the global trend of people choosing to consume more news online rather than in print.
The Nielsen data, based on interviews done between July last year and June this year, did not reflect the recent spike in traffic as well as readers who access ST via social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Readers also consume content via ST's e-mail newsletters, podcasts, videos and radio programmes.
Despite these gaps, Nielsen concluded that over 1.2 million people continue to read ST for credible and trustworthy information as well as good entertainment value. Readers spent, on average, 44 minutes reading The Straits Times and 39 minutes reading The Sunday Times.
The study surveyed about 4,600 people, with results then weighted by age, sex and race to be representative of the Singapore population.
The Straits Times and other SPH products remain the only media products Singaporeans are willing to pay for, a trend reflected in the Nielsen report that profiled ST readers as "driven and (those who) want to be seen as successful".
Mr Ignatius Low, SPH's chief commercial officer for media solutions, said that while the Nielsen CMV is the default industry standard, "it is rarely the basis for today's media planning decisions". "There are well-known gaps in areas like online and outdoor advertising... The CMV headline numbers fail to recognise that not every media consumer is equal in the eyes of advertisers."
He added: "SPH is the only major local news provider with paying customers, delivering a superior audience that is accustomed to paying a premium for quality, credibility and reliability. Running an ad campaign across a variety of SPH platforms - print, online, radio and outdoor - also results in deeper and more lasting consumer engagement.
"This is why SPH's share of the advertising dollar is in reality much larger than what the headline CMV numbers would indicate."
SPH is the only major local news provider with paying customers, delivering a superior audience that is accustomed to paying a premium for quality, credibility and reliability. Running an ad campaign across a variety of SPH platforms - print, online, radio and outdoor - also results in deeper and more lasting consumer engagement.
MR IGNATIUS LOW, SPH's chief commercial officer for media solutions.
The median age of the ST reader is 41 years, compared with the national median of 43 years, and his median household income is $7,445, against the national median of $5,846. Generally younger, more educated, and earning a higher income than the average population, ST readers are more "willing to pay for luxury and quality", noted Nielsen, which found that more than half of ST readers went on to attend events or buy products after seeing them advertised in ST.
Overall, the study confirmed the perception that more people are moving online to get information, with even those above 60 years old conforming to the trend. Compared with 19.5 per cent last year, more than 25 per cent of Singaporeans above the age of 60 now read online articles for the latest goings-on.
The same upward tick was seen across other age groups, too, with ST recording a huge increase in online readership among Generation Z readers, generally perceived to be less interested in reading the news.
"Recent technology developments and telcos' keenness to stay competitive with cheaper mobile data plans and faster Internet speed will provide a very conducive environment," said executive director for Singapore's branch of Nielsen media Yee Chong Moon, who predicted continued growth in digital consumption in the coming years.
In recent years, news organisations such as ST have transformed and are adapting to the digital landscape, from using data analytics tools to training journalists to be more comfortable talking about their stories on camera.
One area that defied the overall switch from print to online was magazines, with nine in 10 readers choosing to read these in hard copy, Nielsen said.
There was a 6.8 per cent increase in those who tune in to the radio, with the total number of listeners at 2.25 million. For TV, almost eight in 10 Singaporeans tune in to free-to-air channels weekly, with the Mandarin Channel 8 coming up tops.