PCUK/Harris Poll: Only Five Percent Of UK Readers Would Pay For Online News


Credit: paidContent:UK/Harris Interactive

If Rupert Murdoch thinks readers will pay to read his websites, maybe he should think again. Exclusive research commissioned by paidContent:UK from Harris Interactive shows that most readers would run a mile. As the chart below shows, 74 percent say they’ll look for a free site while only 5 percent say they would pay. The first installment is live now; more to come throughout the week.


Gordon Rae

Paywalls aren't going to succeed or fail in a vacuum. The package has to be convenient, easy to use, and valued by the purchasers. News publishers are going to have to think about product design as well as protection technologies.

Greg Golebiewski

A recent study done by Belden Interactive (http://www.niemanlab.org/2009/09/lots-of-data-to-mull-on-charging-for-online-content/) shows a different picture.

Given the situation that one's favorite online news would no longer be available [as a free site], 54% respondents said they would turned to local TV stations for the news; 39% would check other area newspapers' sites (given they are free), etc. (the respondents were allow to mark multiple choices) . Only 11% would go to "other [free] sites."

Interestingly enough, 32% responded said they would use Cable TV (CNN) as their favorite source of news. Given that CNN is not free, the survey shows that PCUK/Harris Poll might indeed be biased, largely underestimating the Web users' willingness to pay for news.


Sorry, but if the possible answers were pre-defined by Harris (and it seems they were), the results might be biased toward the "negative" answers, as they show many options the readers have. If one asks simply, Will you pay to continue to read your favorite paper(s), the distribution will be quite different.

Then, there is the issue of ALL possible differences between free and paid, including perceived quality, favorite authors, favorite format with or without ads, cookies, etc. Then, there is the issue of how easy and safe the payments can be.

Once people start to realize that "another free site" is not the same as "my favorite paper, only without any charges," the breakdown of responses will be a lot more positive towards the paid option.

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