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Appetite for news breaks records even as crisis deepens for media



Virgin Media anchor Claire Brock

Virgin Media anchor Claire Brock

Virgin Media anchor Claire Brock

THERE has been a surge in readership at Ireland’s main news sites during the Covid-19 pandemic, research from Dublin-based marketing communications firm Core shows.

It said online news “continues to break records” as consumers seek out content and commentary during the lockdown. Ironically, demand for news is soaring at a time of unprecedented financial strain on news producers.

Media businesses at national and regional level, in print, broadcast and online, have announced layoffs, pay cuts and reduced hours as they have been hammered by collapsing advertising revenue and competition from Google and Facebook. “There’s always going to be demand and necessity for local and national media,” according to Core CEO Alan Cox, adding that there needs to be some Government policies that “encourage media to survive”.

Core’s research found Irish adults spend an average of three extra hours a day watching TV since the lockdown began. News has been the big draw for viewers, but they have also sought comfort via RTÉ’s, Virgin’s and Channel 4’s online players, and shows such as ‘Fair City’, ‘The Guards’, ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Father Ted.’

Core, whose main business is ad buying, said the appetite for news “is at the highest level for many years”, with all media publishers “showing significant growth in audience, subscriptions and paywall payments”. Independent News & Media – the publisher of this and other titles including the ‘Sunday Independent’ – introduced a paywall in February.

So far, it has attracted more than 18,000 subscribers. ‘The Irish Times’ also has a paywall.

“Consumers are now paying for this content, showing an increased appetite to pay for quality journalism,” according to Core.

Online Editors