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Nielsen: Will consumers pay for online content? Maybe

Nielsen: Will consumers pay for online content? Maybe

Will consumers pay for online news and entertainment contents that are now free?

According to a recent Nielsen survey which covered more than 27,000 consumers across 52 countries, 85 percent said they would like free content remain free. However, when asked based on specific types of content, survey participants are more likely to at least consider paying for particular categories, especially if they have ever done so, the research company said in a blog post.

Will Pay / Won't Pay

Online content for which consumers are most willing to pay, or have already paid, are those which are usually paid-for offline, such as movies, music, games and current television shows. They always cost a lot to produce.

Consumers are least likely to pay for what is "essentially homegrown online," which is produced at fairly low cost, including social communities, podcasts, consumer-generated videos and blogs.

News formats are placed in between - newspapers, magazines, Internet news sources and radio news and talk shows. Though most are created by professionals at relatively expensive cost, much of their content "has basically become a commodity, readily available elsewhere for free," Nielsen reported.

Compensation Conditions

In spite of preferences, global consumers generally agree that online content will need to meet certain criteria before charged-for:

- More than three out of four survey participants (78 percent) believe that if they already pay for a newspaper, magazine, radio or television service, its online content should be provided for free.

- 71 percent of respondents globally say any online content will have to be "considerably better than what is currently free" before they say "yes" to pay.

- Almost eight out of ten (79 percent) would stop using a Web site that charges them, presuming they can find the same information elsewhere at no cost.

- As a group, there is no clear idea on whether the quality of online content would suffer if companies could not charge for it - 34 percent think so, while another 30 percent do not, and the rest of 36 percent have no firm opinion.

Regardless of the growing consensus that the media could only generate appreciable online revenues by charging for content, there is little agreement on how to do that. Among several popular payment models, such as full service subscriptions, individual transactions, or micropayments, about half (52 percent) favor the latter, although micropayments have proved difficult to implement. However, only 43% say an easy payment method would encourage them to buy content online.

Also, regarding ads, 47 percent of respondents said they are willing to accept more advertising, if content is free. Yet 64 percent said if they must pay for content online, there should be no ads, according to the new Nielsen report, Changing Models: A Global Perspective on Paying for Content Online.


Erina Lin


2010-02-16 23:02

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