How do people listen to music, watch films & TV series, or read the news today? A new Eurobarometer survey shows that a majority of Europeans, aged 15 to 45, use the internet at least once a week to read the latest news (72%), listen to their favourite music (63%), find pictures (54%) and watch films or TV series (53%).

Graphic showing how people listen to music online

Nearly eight in ten use free services to access content, but other criteria are also important such as good audio or video quality or the possibility of access content without having to go through a registration process.

The survey also shows the importance of online services such as video sharing platforms, social media or content aggregators to access contents.

Reading news

The websites or apps of newspapers or magazines may be the single most popular way in which people access news in digital format - 42% of all respondents turn to them first when looking for news, but the majority of people looking for news – 57% – now turn to other services: 22% mainly access their news via social media, 21% through search engines and 14% via news aggregation services, which provide extracts and links to articles from a variety of newspaper websites.  Among these 57%, there is a fairly even split between those who most often browse and read the main news without clicking on links to access the whole article and those who say they click on available links to read the whole article on its original webpage (47% and 45% respectively). The most important criterion when choosing a service is that it is free (77%). Other important criteria are access without registration (54%) and not being disturbed by adverts when reading the article (40%). Three quarters of the 35 to 45 year olds read news online at least once a week, compared to 67% of the 15 to 24 year olds.

Accessing articles on newspaper or magazine websites or apps was most common in Finland and Luxembourg (both 68%) and Estonia (67%). In Latvia (53%), Bulgaria and Slovakia (both 40%) readers most often used online social media.

Listening to music

Video or music-sharing websites are the most popular way for people to listen to music online, with 31% of all respondents using them the most.  Second most popular - 22% – are professional music streaming services, either free or paid; 16% online radio stations and 14% social media. 15 to 24 year olds listen to music online more often than the 25 to 45 age year olds (78% vs 50%).

Video or music sharing websites are most used in Cyprus (57%) and Hungary (50%), whereas professional streaming services are most popular in Sweden (46%), Finland (43%) and Denmark (37%). A majority of those interviewed – 71% – chose free services. 53% mentioned good quality of audio or video and 40% said not having to register was an important criterion for choosing a service.

Accessing images

When looking for pictures online, search engines are the favourite route for 53% of those interviewed. Half of these use the search engine results to access the website where the image is stored, whereas 40% use the picture displayed in the search engine results. Other sources of images are social media – 27% – and websites where users share images – 12%. 6% use professional image banks. The younger age group of 15 to 24 year olds uses the internet more than the 35-45 year olds to access images (64% vs. 45%).

In all countries, except Bulgaria, using search engines was the most common way to access images. Countries with the highest proportions are the Czech Republic and Luxembourg (both 66%). In Bulgaria 38% of respondents most often use social media. The fact that the service is free is the most important criteria for the majority of respondents (84%) whereas 60% said that not having to register is an important reason.

Watching films and TV series

To watch TV series and films online the people interviewed first turn to professional film and TV series streaming websites (free or paid) (25%), then to video sharing websites (22%) and broadcasters' online TV services (19%).  13% most often use online platforms providing access to a selection of TV channels or video on demand services, 11% social media and 5% digital stores. The survey shows that 15 to 24 year olds are more likely to use the internet to watch TV series and films than the 25-35 year olds (67% vs. 42%).

In 10 countries professional streaming services are used the most. Finland (44%), Denmark (41%), Luxembourg (39%) and Sweden (38%) top the league. In 17 countries video-sharing websites are the most popular with Bulgaria (45%), Hungary (42%), Greece, Cyprus and Czech Republic (all 40%) in the lead. Using broadcasters online TV services is the most common in the United Kingdom (30%), Finland (24%) and Estonia (23%). 64% of respondents consider that accessing a service for free is the most important criteria for using it. 52% mentioned offering good quality audio/video, 43% that offering a good catalogue and 42% that streaming is not interrupted by adverts as other important criteria.

Background

This Flash Eurobarometer was carried out between 10 and 21 March 2016. The figures are based on some 13,500 internet users aged 15 to 45 years in the 28 Member States. They were interviewed online after having accepted to participate in the survey by telephone.

In addition to looking at the frequency of the use of Internet to access cultural content online and at the respective importance of accessing these contents for free and against payment, the survey looks into the  types of online services they most often use to access different types of content online. It also looks into the criteria which matter most to them when choosing the service they use.

Further information

Eurobarometer "Internet users' preferences for accessing content online" and country factsheets