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In spite of an abundance of content available online, consumers in Singapore continue to rely on Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) publications as their go-to news and media sources, according to the latest research conducted by market research company GfK. The inaugural GfK Singapore Audience Study, conducted from December 2020 to April 2021, revealed that nearly three-quarters of the population (73%) consume one or more types of content across SPH’s omni-channel platforms — print, digital, radio or magazines — weekly, with a valuable group of audience willing to pay to access the content.
SPH news properties are widely read by majority of the population
SPH news properties across print, web, ePaper and app are read weekly by over three in five (64%) of the population (people aged 15+), with The Straits Times/The Sunday Times enjoying the highest weekly reach (44%), followed by Lianhe Zaobao (17%) and The Business Times (11%).
While The Straits Times remains the most read local daily across its formats amongst the general Singapore population, the study further showcased the specific segments of audiences that continue to form affinity with SPH’s different content offerings. For instance, The Business Times has a higher proportion of PMEB and affluent readers, The Straits Times has a higher proportion of millennials and Gen X, while SPH’s Chinese news properties enjoy higher readership amongst grocery buyers and baby boomers.
Mr Ignatius Low, Chief Commercial Officer, SPH, 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 synergized 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 demonstrated a valuable group of audiences who are willing to pay to access SPH content.
Over a third (35%) of all SPH newspaper readers are currently subscribers. The Straits Times and The Business Times enjoy the highest subscription rate (hardcopy or ePaper) — both at 45% — among their readership base.
On the other hand, purchase of 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%), Lianhe Wanbao (70%), Shin Min Daily News (71%), and Berita Harian/Minggu (66%) purchase their copies from a newsstand.
Increased digital readership
GfK findings revealed that digital readership has overtaken the consumption of hardcopy newspapers for The Straits Times and The Business Times, with more weekly readers on the respective digital properties as compared to the hardcopies. Lianhe Zaobao, the top Chinese language newspaper in Singapore, now has an almost equal number of weekly readers on digital and hardcopy versions.
Across all the 479 news digital sites passively tracked by GfK digital metering for the study, SPH’s digital news sites are accessed by 47% of the population at least once weekly. Each week, over a third (34%) visit The Straits Times, making it the most visited digital news platform. Other top SPH digital news properties visited include AsiaOne, Lianhe Zaobao, The Business Times, The New Paper and STOMP.
The study also identified that more readers go directly to the publications’ official websites or apps to access the news compared to digital traffic that are referred through social media links.
Positive perception of SPH offerings
The study also highlighted an overall positive perception of SPH’s news content and offerings. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the population agreed that SPH news publications produce reliable news and content, and 71% 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%) found the content relevant to their community.
Mr Lee Risk, Commercial Director, GfK observed: “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.”
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.”
The GfK Singapore Audience Study measures media consumption with a single-source component. This study is not just about collecting information through claimed behaviour based on recall (survey), but has an additional element of actual behaviour (digital usage), which is measured passively. Two waves of surveys are conducted annually with up to 3,000 individuals selected to ensure an accurate representation of the population. Respondents’ print and radio listening habits are then combined with digital data collected by GfK and SPH to give a total picture of consumption.
Mr Low added: “Aside from collecting and using first-party data for decision-making, we are consistently conducting market research to ensure our products are relevant. This new study aims to shed more light on media engagement and other qualitative aspects of SPH audience beyond just reach and frequency, and show how they interact with the company’s content across various platforms. Having this frequently versus annually is valuable as it will tell us more about our customers, our competitors and the market as market dynamics keep evolving.”
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