The Swedes and the internet 2014

An annual study of the Swedish people's internet habits

9. Internet and traditional media

The discussion over what would happen with traditional media when the internet came already started in the beginning of the 1990s. Would radio, television, newspapers and books survive in the traditional formats when everyone could choose between the digital formats on the internet? Today, after twenty years with the internet, we have the answer.

Web versions have gradually become a part of people’s media habits but the most time is still devoted to traditional media in its traditional forms with the exception of the tabloid where most reading is done on the web. At the same time, new media forms, such as social networks, have established themselves on the internet.


Diagram 9.1. Average time (hour/week) the population (12+ years) devotes to traditional media and media on the internet. Show as table Download

Next: About the report

Diagram 9.2. Changes between 2013 and 2014 of the average time spent with traditional media and their web versions. Show as table Download

Small changes with a clear tendency

The changes over the past year are small, but the tendencies are clear. The time has been reduced for paper newspapers and for listening to recorded music. The time is increasing for streaming TV “Play” services and digital games, and is fairly unchanged when it comes to traditional TV and radio, and for newspapers’ web versions.

The differences between the generations, however, are big. For the younger (16-25), the time is dominated by games, social networks, TV, radio, and books. For TV, radio, and books, traditional media is used most, while for daily news, the web and paper are equal with the web most used for tabloids.

Diagram 9.4. Average time (hours/week) for users in the ages of 16–25 years of traditional media and media on the internet. Show as table Download

In the ages of 35 to 45, most of the time is used for TV and radio in their traditional forms. Tabloids are mostly read on the web.

Diagram 9.5. Average time (hours/week) for users in the ages of 36–45 years of traditional media and media on the internet. Show as table Download

Even among pensioners, radio and TV dominates in their traditional forms as well as when it comes to reading the news and books.

Diagram 9.6. Average time (hours/week) for users in the ages of 65+ on traditional media and media on the internet. Show as table Download


Diagram 9.3. Number of internet users (12+ years) in different age groups who search for news on the internet. Show as table Download

Internet as a news source

Previously, in Chapter 5 about information and facts, it has been shown that personal contacts are the most important source of information in all ages. For those younger than 45, the internet is the most important and far behind the internet is TV. For those older than 55, TV is the most important, tightly followed by radio and newspapers. The internet comes far down. For the middle ages of 46-55, all media is about of equal importance as information sources.

When it comes to news, the internet has a special position via computers, mobile phones or tablets. Almost everyone who uses the internet has looked for news at some time. More than half in the ages of 26 to 55 do so daily. The most common is to go to different media sources, but today even Facebook, through sharing, is an important source of news for many younger people. However, there are few who use the special news websites that exist. (Mediebarometern 2013).


Diagram 9.7. Number of internet users who read the newspaper on the internet sometimes or daily (no distinction between day and evening newspaper). Show as table Download

Daily news

Three out of four sometimes read a daily newspaper on the internet, with a third doing it every day. This is how it has looked during the past seven years [diagram 9.7]. At the same time, there are as many today as before who have at some time read a paper newspaper despite the higher subscription prices. But other media statistics shows that the number of those who read a daily paper on an average day has decreased as the subscriptions decreased (Mediebarometern 2013). The conclusion is that just as many as before read a daily paper, but not all do it as regularly as before. The total reading time on an average day for those who read, counting both paper and the web, remains constant, just as it has done for many years since the 1980s. Reading time among readers of news on the internet, however, is only about half that of paper newspaper readers.

If we look at the reading time on paper and the internet in relation to each other, we see that around 28 percent of the total reading time of daily papers is done on the web. This is an increase of 4 percentage unites from 2013. Most internet news is read in the ages of 26-35 where 59 percent of the total daily news reading is done on the internet. The least is among pensioners who spend 18 percent of their daily news reading on the internet.

Diagram 9.8. Average time (hours/week) that different age groups read the daily news on paper and on the web Show as table Download

There is still a large number of the population (44%) that only read daily news on paper. 32 percent read both paper and the web and 10 percent read only on the web.

Diagram 9.9. Number of the population that reads the daily news on paper, web, or a combination of these. Show as table Download


Diagram 9.10. Average time (hours/week) that different age groups read tabloids on paper and on the web. Show as table Download


The traditional mass media that has been affected the most by digitization is the tabloid. Here, the internet version dominates. In all ages, it has become more common to read tabloids on the internet instead of paper. Tabloids, which do not have any base of subscribers but depend on newsstand buyers, are accessible via the internet and mobile phone directly without any newspaper kiosk as the middle man. This has resulted in increased reading especially among the younger. Today the average reading of tabloids for those in the ages of 26-35 have risen from 1.1 hours a week to 1.6 hours a week. [diagram 9.10] At the same time, the internet versions’ number of total reading time has increased from 71 percent last year to 79 percent today. An increasing share of tabloid reading thus takes place on the internet.

However, there is a smaller group of readers (10% of the population), mainly among the older, who only read tabloids on paper. An slightly larger group (13%) reads both on paper and the web and a group three times as large (34% of the population) reads only on the web.

Diagram 9.11. Number of the population who reads tabloids on paper, on the web, or a combination of these. Show as table Download


Diagram 9.12. Average time (hours/week) that different age groups listen to traditional radio and web radio. Show as table Download


Radio has lost some of its audience seen in a longer perspective, but without competition it is the medium after television with which people spend the most time: 14 hours a week. Even though the older listeners spend the most time listening to the radio, everyone from 16 years and up listen to the radio at least an hour per day. Pensioners listen on average 2 hours a day.

The internet has not influenced listening to the radio in the same way as listening to music, where today streaming music dominates over recorded music.

On average, 87 percent of the listening is done through traditional radio. This is a small change from last year when the number was 88 percent. There are also generational differences here. The young (12-15) who listen the least to radio spend a quarter of their radio time listening on the internet while with those who listen the most in the ages of 65 to 75 spend 4 percent of their listening time over the internet.

Most (57 % of the population) only listen to traditional radio and 20 percent sometimes also listen over the internet. There is a smaller group, 6 percent of the population, which only listens on the internet.


Diagram 9.13. Number of the population who listens to traditional radio, web radio, or a combination. Show as table Download


Diagram 9.14. Number of internet users who use TV "Play" services sometimes or daily. Show as table Download


Television in its traditional form has kept its position well against the TV, film and video offered on the internet. More people have discovered the possibility to decide for themselves when they want to see a program. Seven years ago, one out of four (27%) took advantage of the opportunity to see programs via streaming TV “Play” services. Today two out of three (63%) use this opportunity at some time. However, there are few (4%) who watch streaming TV “Play” services daily. Daily television viewing on traditional television is 83 percent. Streaming TV “Play” services are thus used as a complement.

84 percent of the time that is spent on television is on traditional TV, which means that web television occupies 16 percent of the time. This is an increase with 3 percentage points since last year. The biggest number of web television time is among the youngest (12-15) with 37 percent and the least time is with pensioners who spend 5 percent of their viewing time on streaming TV “Play” services.

Diagram 9.15. Average time (hours/week) that different age groups watch traditional TV and TV "Play" services. Show as table Download

Half of the population (51%) only watches traditional TV, another 43 percent sometimes watch streaming TV “Play” services, while just 3 percent watch only streaming TV “Play” services.

Diagram 9.16. Number of the population that watch traditional TV, TV "Play" services, or a combination of the these. Show as table Download

For most programs, streaming TV “play” services have a small audience but in a few cases it has been almost half as big audiences that watched the original broadcast on regular TV. One such case was the Advent calendar program on SVT in December of 2013, which had an audience of millions. This was a series of programs that many families with children wanted to see and no one wanted to miss an episode. Via SVT-Play, they could decide for themselves when it suited them best, and many used this possibility in this particular case. (mms 2014).



Over the years, book sales have shown a remarkable stability. This also applies for school children and adolescents (Findahl, 2012). The tendency is that the level of the reading of fiction/young adult remains at the same level as earlier while the reading of fact books/textbooks decreases. (Mediebarometern, 2013).


Diagram 9.17. Number of the population that has at some time read an e-book. Show as table Download

Reading e-books is not taking off

Unlike in the U.S., the reading of e-books in Sweden has not taken off. It has admittedly increased in recent years to 14 percent who have at some time read an e-book. Only 3 percent read e-books once or more per week.

The readers are no longer only young men interested in technology, as they were from the start. Readers are now in all ages and the reading of e-books is just as common among women as among men. It is however the most common for those in the ages of 16-45 to download e-books.

58 percent of the population only reads paper books, 11 percent sometimes read an e-book and 3 percent only read e-books.

Diagram 9.18. Number of the population who read paper books, e-books, or a combination of both. Show as table Download

The quick distribution of tablets in the past year has now affected the reading of e-books. Up until last year it was common that one used a computer to read an e-book. 47 percent of readers did this in 2013. Today the tablet is dominant and half read e-books with their tablet, then comes the computer with the mobile phone last.

Diagram 9.19. Number of e-book readers who use different screens for their reading. Show as table Download

Among young men (12-35) reading with the computer and tablet are equal. Young women choose the tablet and some also use the mobile phone to read.


In the U.S. e-books have taken off

Unlike Sweden, the reading of e-books has taken off in the U.S. in part because so many have access to reading tablets, for example the Kindle from Amazon. 32 percent had a reading tablet at the end of 2013 and 28 percent read an e-book during the past year. 57 percent of e-book readers read on an e-book reader compared to just 16 percent in Sweden. According to the Pew Research Internet Project (2014), this has not affected the reading of regular books.


Diagram 9.20. Number of men and women in the population (12+ years) who read books in different time intervals (minutes per week). Show as table Download

Book reading among men and women

The reading of books has shown a remarkable stability over decades. Digitization and e-books have not changed this, except when it comes to schoolbooks and fact books. Here, the internet, with its comprehensive content of information and facts, has started to compete.

The time spent on reading books has however held constant (Findahl, Soi 2012) and the difference between men and women persists. But it is not just women who read books. Most men read just as much as women, but there is a group who does not read books at all. Among these non-book readers there are both men and women, but twice as many men.



The internet has now been in existence for almost twenty years. The newspapers were quick to present their content on their own websites free for all. Radio and television came a little later and have complemented their direct broadcast channels with an archive with earlier sent programs. Slowly, a growing share of media consumption has moved over to the internet, especially among the young. However, the traditional media continues to dominate with one exception: tabloids. Today the majority (79%) of tabloid reading is on the internet, but for the daily news, 72% of reading time is on paper, 87% of listening time is on traditional radio, 84% of viewing time is on traditional TV and the main section of book readers choose paper books, but the introduction of the tablet continues a slow shift toward a growing section of media consumption on the net. However, media still dominates in its traditional forms of consumption: reading newspapers with tabloids as exceptions, TV watching and book reading.