Yahoo!-ABC News Leads Online Digital News Visits, as Mobile Rules

April 29, 2015 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Three trends stand out in the new Pew Research Center Journalism & Media Study. One is that consumption of news has moved more and more toward mobile devices. Another is that Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) and its partner ABC lead all media properties in online visits, based on January data. Finally, more and more people see news because of recommendations from members of social media sites.

The drawback of mobile news consumption is that people do not spend as much time viewing news on global devices as on personal computers (PCs):

The data, from January 2015, show that for the majority of these 50 most visited online news entities, mobile visits outpace desktop ones. But only for a minority do mobile visitors spend more time per visit.

For example, mobile visitors to Yahoo!-ABC spent 2.3 minutes on the site, while desktop users spent 3.9 minutes. The same pattern was repeated among the other top nine sites, which include Time Warner Inc.’s (NYSE: TWX) CNN Networks, Comcast Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) NBC News, AOL Inc.’s (NYSE: AOL) Huffington Post, CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) News, Gannet Co. Inc.’s (NYSE: CGI) USA Today, BuzzFeed, The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) brands, Fox Digital News and the Mail Online/Daily Mail.

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Another major finding by Pew is not particularly good for most media outlets that would like to have consumers come directly to their sites. Social media has become a major conduit:

In tandem with the growth of mobile has been the further rise of the social Web, where the flow of information embodies a whole new dynamic. Some of our 2014 research revealed that nearly half of Web-using adults report getting news about politics and government in the past week on Facebook alone, a platform where influence is driven to a strong degree by friends and algorithms.

For many Web users, the news is not the news. Rather, it is part of what social network visitors, particularly those of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), pass around, along with things like their photos, locations and video, which has nothing to do with the news at all. News may be going mobile, but it is also experiencing attrition of its ability to view its content as worthy of being a primary destination.