Nepal’s new digital landscape

Nepalis are now increasingly in control of the media content they consume thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, better internet connectivity and new media platforms. 

A survey conducted in 2018 showed that 90% of Nepalis now own mobile devices, with half of them producing smartphones when asked. 95% of households have mobile phones, for an average 2.5 devices per home. Nearly everyone uses mobile phones to access the internet.  

These results are from the Nepal Media Survey 2019, which queried 4,129 respondents in 42 districts. A summary of the survey, conducted by Sharecast Initiative, was published in this paper in April, and is now available in book form.

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With 88% of respondents using Facebook frequently, it comes as no surprise that 8.5 million Nepalis are on the platform today, while 45% are on messenger and 35% on IMO for instant messaging between friends and relatives. YouTube is also popular, with 34% using it on a regular basis. 

Twitter has a much smaller following in Nepal but influencers, academics and movers and shakers are progressively using it to wield power online. This trend is only likely to rise with affordable 3G and 4G services and expansion of broadband Wi-Fi service across the country.

Eyeballs are shifting to online media at a rapid pace. Nepalis are now using Facebook not only to connect with near and dear ones but increasingly as a source of news and information. While very few trust social media content, networking sites are no longer confined to personal sharing but are being adopted by politicians and activists for their campaigns. This has larger implications for Nepali society, politics and development. 

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Radio continues to be the main source of local information, with 49% tuning in regularly for news bulletins, but tv is catching up. Surprisingly, 58% said they consider neighbours and friends as a key source for local news and information. This number falls considerably when it comes to national and international news, where tv is preferred. 

Tv is the most accessed form of mass media in Nepal, with 60% of households owning a set, whereas only 28% of households have a functioning radio. But more people listen to radio on their phones than on a radio set. 

Legacy media continues to hold its own against online portals for now, but newspaper readership in Nepal is fast shrinking and is limited to major centres. Distribution is a major hurdle — 59% of respondents said they did not read newspapers and magazine because they were not available in their area. 

With alternative methods to access news, publication houses lamenting the decline of traditional print media might want to invest in better online and multimedia content to hold the interest of readers whose attention span is declining by the day. This is further proven by the fact that Nepalis are ambivalent about the content of all forms of mass media. 


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The good news is that Nepali media is generally reliable. Among the respondents who regularly accessed tv, radio and newspapers, most trusted the content. And although most get their information on the Net, very few trust it.   

Notable points:

  • The 16-24 age group and those with Bachelors degrees are the heaviest consumers of all types of media
  • Newars have the highest access to all media except radio, whereas Tarai Dalits have the least access
  • Women lag behind in access to all media
  • As expected, media saturation is highest in Province 3 while mobile is least accessed in Province 5.

Nepal Media Survey 2019 

National Survey on Nepali Media Landscape 

Sharecast Initiative Nepal 

Rs1,000 (Institutional)

Rs500 (Individual)

Pages: 50

Read also: Nepal’s changing media landscape, Sharecast Initiative

Sonia Awale


Sonia Awale is Executive Editor of Nepali Times where she also serves as the health, science and environment correspondent. She has extensively covered the climate crisis, disaster preparedness, development and public health -- looking at their political and economic interlinkages. Sonia is a graduate of public health, and has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Hong Kong.

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