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Understanding News Consumption Patterns and Preferences in India: A Comprehensive Analysis of the India Reach Study

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Understanding News Consumption Patterns and Preferences in India: A Comprehensive Analysis of the India Reach Study

March 13
15:06 2024
News consumption is pivotal in shaping individuals’ understanding of current events, influencing opinions, and fostering discussion. The India Reach Study analyzed news consumption among 20,000 respondents, sampling based on India’s census data. It delves into key findings, including frequency of news access, reasons for staying informed, and preferences for international media.


News Consumption Patterns: The study revealed that a significant portion of respondents accessed news frequently, with 25.4% checking news every hour or more, and 37.2% accessing it 2-3 times a day. This highlights the importance of news in the daily lives of individuals, whether through traditional mediums like TV and radio or modern platforms like social media. The data also showed that 45.7% of respondents consumed news to have topics for discussion, indicating the social aspect of news consumption.

Reasons for Staying Informed: Understanding why individuals seek news is essential in comprehending their information needs. The study found that 55.4% of respondents considered it important to know what’s happening in their own country, while 49.7% sought background information on current events. Additionally, 51.0% mentioned that consuming news allowed them to form opinions on important issues. These findings underscore the role of news in providing context, fostering civic engagement, and shaping individual perspectives.

Preferences for International Media: When it comes to international media sources, respondents expressed various expectations and demands. For instance, 59.3% valued fast coverage in breaking news situations, while 60.0% appreciated media outlets showing different sides of a story. This indicates a desire for diverse perspectives and timely information from international sources. Moreover, 53.8% preferred exclusive content not available elsewhere, emphasizing the importance of unique and in-depth coverage.

Interest in News Topics: The study also explored respondents’ interest in specific news topics. It revealed that 57.4% were very interested in science news, while 61.8% showed a high interest in technology and innovation coverage. These findings reflect the evolving interests of individuals, with a growing focus on scientific advancements and technological developments. Understanding these preferences can help media outlets tailor their content to meet audience expectations.

Media Consumption Habits: Analyzing how individuals consume news is crucial for media organizations to optimize their content delivery strategies. The study found that 63.2% of respondents watched television for news yesterday, while 28.1% listened to the radio. Understanding these habits can help media outlets prioritize platforms and formats that align with audience preferences.

Demographic Analysis:

Age Range Distribution:

The survey data showcases a diverse distribution across age groups, with the majority falling between 18 to 34 years old, comprising approximately 62.3% of the respondents. Notably, the age group of 25-34 years old represents the largest segment with 31.8% of responses, closely followed by 18-24 years old at 30.5%.

Gender Distribution: In terms of gender, the survey indicates a nearly equal split, with males representing 51.0% and females 48.9% of the respondents. The data also captures a small percentage (0.1%) of other-gender respondents.

Marital Status: The majority of respondents report being married (57.9%), while a significant portion identify as single/unmarried (40.0%). Other categories such as widowed/widower, live-in/cohabiting, divorced, separated, and remarried constitute smaller percentages.

Regional Distribution: The survey reflects a diverse geographical spread, with respondents hailing from various states in India. Maharashtra (18.3%), Uttar Pradesh (11.0%), and Delhi (7.1%) emerge as the top states by respondent count.

Religious Affiliation: Hinduism stands out as the dominant religion among respondents, with 78.4% identifying as Hindus. Other religious groups such as Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains also contribute to the survey data.

Socioeconomic Analysis:

Household Possessions:

The data reveals widespread access to basic amenities like electricity connections, ceiling fans, and personal electronic devices such as smartphones and computers. However, ownership of luxury items like cars and air conditioners appears to be comparatively lower.

Language Proficiency:

Respondents exhibit varying levels of understanding across different languages, with a significant portion reporting limited proficiency. This underscores the linguistic diversity within the surveyed population, necessitating tailored communication strategies.

Media Consumption Habits:

Access to media devices like television sets, radios, and smartphones is prevalent among respondents, indicating a high degree of digital connectivity. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and YouTube witness frequent usage, with the majority accessing them multiple times a day.

Consumer Behavior and Preferences:

Podcast Preferences: The survey sheds light on the podcast listening habits of respondents, with a notable interest in diverse topics ranging from news and politics to entertainment, education, and personal development. Subjects like knowledge and education (83.3%) and comedy and entertainment (81.0%) garner substantial listener interest, reflecting a preference for both informative and light-hearted content.

Television Viewing Habits:

Preferred Mode of Watching TV:

The majority of respondents (63.2%) primarily utilize traditional television sets for viewing, indicating a sustained preference for conventional broadcast methods. Notably, a significant proportion (18.7%) opt for online streaming services, highlighting the growing influence of digital platforms in reshaping media consumption habits.

Satellite/Cable Provider Preference:

Dish TV, Tata Play DTH, and Airtel Digital TV emerge as the top three choices among satellite/cable providers, with adoption rates ranging between 43.2% to 43.8%. The data reflects a diverse landscape of service providers, with notable presence from DD Direct Plus, d2h, and InCable, among others, underscoring consumer choice and competition within the market.

Digital Content Consumption Patterns:

Video Streaming Platform Usage:

Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar command significant user engagement, with substantial percentages reporting recent usage across different timeframes. JioCinema, Zee5, SonyLIV, and Airtel XStream also witness considerable traction, indicating a fragmented but competitive marketplace characterized by varied content offerings.

Social Media Following Preferences:

Across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Josh, respondents demonstrate diverse preferences in terms of accounts they follow. Notably, friends, family, and acquaintances are the most followed category across all platforms, emphasizing the social nature of these platforms. Entertainment-related content, including TV shows, channels, celebrities, and influencers, also garners significant attention, reflecting the role of social media as a source of entertainment and celebrity engagement. Additionally, information providers, experts, and contacts/companies related to work witness notable follower engagement, suggesting a multifaceted usage pattern catering to both personal and professional interests.

Implications and Recommendations:

Hybrid Viewing Experience: As consumers continue to embrace digital platforms, traditional TV broadcasters should adapt by offering integrated services that bridge the gap between linear programming and on-demand content. Collaborations between satellite/cable providers and online streaming platforms could enhance content discovery and accessibility, catering to evolving viewer preferences.

Content Curation and Original Programming: Streaming platforms should prioritize content curation and investment in original programming to attract and retain subscribers. Tailoring content offerings to diverse audience segments and regional preferences could enhance user engagement and loyalty.

Social Media Engagement Strategies: Brands and content creators should leverage social media platforms to cultivate meaningful interactions with users, focusing on building communities and fostering engagement around shared interests. Personalization and authenticity are key drivers of social media success, with users gravitating towards relatable content and genuine connections.

Market Expansion and Localization: Video streaming platforms should prioritize market expansion and localization efforts to tap into diverse demographics and regional markets. Customizing content libraries, user interfaces, and marketing campaigns based on cultural nuances and language preferences can enhance brand relevance and resonance among target audiences.

News Consumption Habits:

Frequency and Duration of News Consumption: The data indicates a significant portion of respondents engage with news content regularly, with 25.4% accessing it every hour or more, and 37.2% checking it 2-3 times a day. Regarding the duration, a substantial number of respondents (around 59.3%) spend between 11 to 60 minutes per day consuming news, indicating a moderate to high level of engagement.

Preferred News Sources: Television remains a primary source of news for many respondents, with 63.2% accessing it yesterday. Radio also holds relevance, albeit to a lesser extent, with 28.1% tuning in yesterday. Online platforms, particularly Google search (89.3%), news apps (70.0%), and YouTube (91.8%), are widely used for news consumption, highlighting the shift towards digital mediums.

Engagement with Social Media for News: Social media platforms play a significant role in news dissemination, with Facebook (77.3%), Instagram (81.4%), and X (formerly known as Twitter) (55.2%) being popular choices among respondents. Notably, Google search emerges as the most preferred platform for staying informed on news and current affairs, indicating its pivotal role in online news consumption.

Preferences in News Format and Content: 

Video Content Preferences: Respondents exhibit varied preferences for video content lengths across different social media platforms. YouTube stands out as the preferred platform for medium (46.4%) and long-length (53.6%) videos, while Instagram leads for short-length videos (30.6%). The data suggests a preference for longer videos on YouTube, indicating a willingness among users to engage with more in-depth news content on this platform.

Interest in News Topics: There is a notable interest in a wide range of news topics, with ‘News and current affairs’ garnering the highest level of interest (59.2% very interested). Other topics such as ‘Social justice’ (53.1% very interested), ‘Culture and lifestyle’ (56.7% very interested), and ‘Education and knowledge’ (65.7% very interested) also attract considerable attention from respondents.

Geopolitical and Regional News Interest:

Interest in Global and Regional News: Respondents demonstrate varying levels of interest in news about different regions and countries. ‘News about the state/city you live in’ (58.9% very interested) and ‘News about India in general’ (58.6% very interested) garner the highest levels of interest. Interest in international news is also significant, with ‘News about India’s neighboring countries’ (43.9% very interested) and ‘News about South Asia’ (31.0% very interested) being notable areas of interest.

Perceptions and Usage of News Media:

Perceptions of News Sources:

Respondents express strong agreement that international news sources provide different perspectives than national news media, with 49.5% strongly agreeing and 38.7% somewhat agreeing. Similarly, a majority (53.7% strongly agree and 36.9% somewhat agree) believe that international media help them understand the outside world, highlighting the perceived value of diverse perspectives.

Trust and Quality: A significant portion of respondents (48.8% strongly agree and 35.8% somewhat agree) believe that international news media maintain a higher quality than national news media, indicating a level of trust in the reliability and credibility of international sources. However, opinions on whether international media are more trustworthy than national counterparts are more divided, with 43.4% strongly agreeing and 35.9% somewhat agreeing.

Utility in Personal and Professional Life:

Many respondents (36.4% strongly agree and 36.1% somewhat agree) indicate that international news sources are part of their work, suggesting their professional relevance. Additionally, a considerable percentage (49.9% strongly agree and 38.6% somewhat agree) state that international media allow them to form opinions about important issues, underscoring their perceived role in shaping individual perspectives and understanding of global affairs.

Reasons for Consuming News:

Personal Reasons for Staying Informed: Respondents cite various reasons for consuming news, including to understand what’s happening in their own country (87% either strongly agree or somewhat agree), to stay informed about local events (86.9% either strongly agree or somewhat agree), and to grasp the significance of certain issues (88.2% either strongly agree or somewhat agree). Furthermore, a majority express the importance of obtaining background information on current events (86.6% either strongly agree or somewhat agree) and understanding trending topics on social media (87.3% either strongly agree or somewhat agree), reflecting a desire for comprehensive knowledge and context.

Familiarity with International Media Sources:

Awareness of International News Providers: Respondents demonstrate varying levels of familiarity with international news sources, with BBC being the most recognized (83.2%) followed by Al Jazeera (48.2%) and CNN (77.3%). Notably, there is relatively lower awareness of NHK (29.0%) and DW (Deutsche Welle) (36.5%), indicating differences in exposure and reach among different international media outlets.

Preference for National vs. International News:

A significant portion of respondents (51.0%) utilize both international and national media sources to stay informed, highlighting the importance of accessing diverse perspectives. However, a notable proportion (24.3%) relies solely on national media, underscoring the continued relevance and trust placed in domestic news sources. Only a small percentage (20.1%) exclusively relies on international media, suggesting a preference for a blend of both global and local coverage.

Expectations and Preferences for International Media:

Importance of Qualities and Skills: Respondents prioritize several qualities and skills when evaluating international media sources. Up-to-date information on current events (62.7% very important) and in-depth coverage (57.8% very important) are highly valued, indicating a demand for comprehensive and timely news coverage. Fast coverage in breaking news situations (59.3% very important) and showing different sides of a story (60.0% very important) are also deemed essential, reflecting the desire for diverse perspectives and timely reporting. Additionally, exclusive content (53.8% very important) and reports from local correspondents (57.4% very important) contribute to the perceived value of international media.

Perceptions of Trustworthiness: Trust in international media varies among respondents, with BBC being the most trusted source according to the survey results. While BBC enjoys relatively high trust levels (81.3% either strongly agree or somewhat agree), other sources such as DW (56.3% either strongly agree or somewhat agree) and Al Jazeera (60.5% either strongly agree or somewhat agree) also receive significant trust from respondents. However, there is noticeable skepticism towards certain sources like RT (Russia Today) and CGTN (China Central Television), with fewer respondents expressing trust in their news and information.

Consumption Patterns: Television remains a prevalent medium for consuming international news programs, with a considerable proportion of respondents reporting recent viewership. BBC stands out with a significant portion of respondents (68.7%) having watched its programs on television in the past week. However, online platforms are increasingly popular for accessing international news content, with a majority of respondents reporting online viewership for various programs.

Platform Preferences: Online platforms, including official websites and streaming services, emerge as primary channels for accessing international news content, reflecting changing media consumption habits. A significant proportion of respondents access international news programs through DW TV’s online platform (62.1% for programs like Eco India and 68.9% for Shift – Living in the Digital Age), highlighting the importance of digital channels in reaching audiences.

Content Consumption on Specific Platforms: Programs like Sehat Talk and Earth Explained are predominantly consumed online, indicating a shift towards digital platforms for specialized content. DW’s content on platforms like attracts recent viewership, suggesting effective outreach and engagement strategies on digital platforms.

Perceptions of DW: Respondents generally perceive DW’s programs as entertaining, with a significant proportion agreeing with the statement (43.3% totally agree and 35.5% rather agree), indicating a positive reception of DW’s content.

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