How Americans Are Consuming Media

by Rick Dunham, Founder+CEO

In recent years, the modern media landscape has proven to be a fast-changing force. So we decided to conduct a study on how people of all ages are consuming media, particularly Christian media.

We thought it was important to first examine this pertinent data:

The Spiritual State of US Adults

This study found that 73 percent of US adults said they were not saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They also said they are “spiritual” but not really “religious.”

Next, 20 percent of notional Christians said, “Yes, I’m saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but I’m really not engaged in church and I don’t engage in Scripture at all.”

Finally, seven percent are what we call the “engaged” followers – those who say they are saved by grace through faith in Christ. This group attends church regularly and engages in Scripture four times or more per week.

Why is that marker important?

The Center of Biblical Engagement, a massive study of hundreds of thousands of people, found that the single most important item to drive spiritual growth is engagement in Scripture four times or more per week.

The Spiritual State of US Teens

Interestingly enough, compared to the adults, these statistics aren’t that different. We found that 70 percent of teens said they are non-believers and 23 percent said they’re notional believers. And just like the adults, seven percent say they’re saved by grace through faith in Christ, attend church regularly, and are engaged in Scripture four times or more per week.

This was a surprise! The general consensus is usually that younger generations are not as engaged in their faith. On the contrary, we found that teens are a little more engaged in their faith than the older generations.

General Media Consumption Habits 

When we look at how people consume media generally, we found that younger adults and teens are much more likely to view or listen to content online or on mobile. Certainly not surprising! A short video, movies, and music on a mobile device are much more likely to skew younger.

The second thing we found is that younger adults and teens are just as likely to listen to music on radio as other ages. This we didn’t expect! Here we’re referring to traditional broadcast media.

This trend is what you might call “flat.” We found that 44 percent of those ages 12 to 15 and 40 percent of those 60 years and older say they listen to music on the radio.

Next, we found that older adults are more likely to view content on broadcast media (typically television programming) than online or mobile. While many in the younger generation do the same, when it comes to a computer or a mobile device, the older generations drop off dramatically. They’re not really engaged in those mediums at all.

Overall, the research from this study shows how to best engage your audience through media – and what you can do to maximize your impact in the future.

If you would like to hear more about how Americans are consuming media, specifically Christian media, please check out our Dunham Institute course Consumer Engagement with Christian Media.


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