The Media in Figures: UK internet users of ‘citizen-related content’

THE BBC’s website is estimated to be the most popular public service broadcasting website, “by a considerable margin”, boasting – according to research into internet use – “an active reach of over half of all [UK] internet users, 55 per cent”.

The study – published by broadcasting regulators, Ofcom – was seeking to look at the use of the internet in terms of so-called ‘citizen-related online content and services’, including public service broadcasting, government and health.

Conducted by a team from Birmingham University during the summer, the study also found the BBC is the most-used website for news provision. According to the research, 52 per cent of online news users say they use it, while 19 per cent say they use Facebook. Sixteen per cent use the Google search engine, and 14 per cent use the Sky News website.

Among the other findings:

* Over half of UK internet users visit blogging websites (58 per cent). The most popular site is Blogger, with around one third (32 per cent) visiting in March. Almost one in five (18 per cent) visited and 14 per cent visited Tumblr. Blogging sites are more popular in Northern Ireland than in other nations;

* According to survey research, over four in ten UK adults (44 per cent) say they browse online for local news and information monthly or more often, and around one in six say they use apps for specific local news or community websites. While TV is most likely to be nominated as the most important local source (49 per cent), 14 per cent of regular local online news users nominate that as their most important source of local news; and

* Research shows that the number of active hyperlocal websites has increased rapidly in the last few years – from 295 sites in 2010 to 499 sites in 2013, according to analysis of the Openly Local database. Most of these sites appear to be located in urban areas.

Also found:

* Nearly half (48 per cent) of internet users aged 15+ use any kind of government website, including local authority sites. One in five (20 per cent) use the GOV.UK website, the government ‘portal’ for a range of content and services. Users of these sites are more likely to be in the AB socio-economic group and in older age-groups.

* After the GOV.UK website (7.7 million users), the most popular websites are HMRC (2.98 million users), the police (1.3 million), the Home Office (1.3 million) and the DWP (0.9 million). In the devolved nations, government websites are relatively more popular in Northern Ireland than in Scotland or Wales;

* Four in ten (41 per cent) internet users visit any type of health information website. The NHS website is the most used, with a unique audience of 7.1 million (18 per cent reach). Visitors are more likely to be women, and to spend far longer on the site (49 minutes versus 11 minutes for men);

* WebMD is the next most popular website for health, albeit with less than half the active reach of the NHS;

* Across the nations, NHS sites and WebMD are the top two websites by active reach. The BBC News Health website has a greater active reach in England and Scotland than in Wales or Northern Ireland;

* According to the Taking Part DCMS tracking study, two in five adults in England have participated digitally in some sort of cultural activity, with those aged 25-44 more likely to have done so. One third had visited a theatre or concert website, three in ten (29 per cent) had visited heritage websites, and a quarter (26 per cent) had visited a museum or gallery website; and

* Older people are more likely to engage with archive and heritage sites than other types of citizen activity; one third (32 per cent) of visitors to the National Archives website are aged 55+.

Source: Ofcom, November 5 2013. Read the report here.