Stats: Who’s Paying for What Online?

There’s an old yarn about people’s unwillingness to pay for content online, but the latest data from The Pew Internet Survey show how this notion continues to unravel. A sliver under two-thirds of all Internet users (65 percent) are buying something online, with the average survey respondent spending $47 per month on online content.

  • 33% of internet users have paid for digital music online
  • 33% have paid for software
  • 21% have paid for apps for their cell phones or tablet computers
  • 19% have paid for digital games
  • 18% have paid for digital newspaper, magazine, or journal articles or reports
  • 16% have paid for videos, movies, or TV shows
  • 15% have paid for ringtones
  • 12% have paid for digital photos
  • 11% have paid for members-only premium content from a website that has other free material on it
  • 10% have paid for e-books
  • 7% have paid for podcasts
  • 5% have paid for tools or materials to use in video or computer games
  • 5% have paid for “cheats or codes” to help them in video games
  • 5% have paid to access particular websites such as online dating sites or services
  • 2% have paid for adult content

Of the 755 survey respondents, nearly one in five (18 percent) said that they had paid for journalistic or editorial content of some kind, which should be good news for newspaper publishers. However, as we’ve seen with iPad versions of magazines, enthusiasm has been tepid overall. 

Perhaps it’s time for legacy media outlets to begin diversifying their online content offerings, seeing themselves as portals or curators of premium content worth buying. Without reprising the role of filters and analysts of the important news of the day, top media brands could engage and broaden their audience through myriad premium content offerings that subsidize the unprofitable, but essential journalism that established their brands in the first place.  

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