Blog Post

Research: Nine Out of 10 Consumers Won’t Pay For Online News

The evidence is stacking up against the confidence of publishers like Rupert Murdoch who expect their readers to start paying for news online.

A survey of 2,000 people by Lightspeed Research (via Mediaweek) found that…

— 91 percent of respondents “would never pay” for online news
— Only five percent said they would be interested in buying single news articles
— just four percent would consider a longer-term subscription.

Lightspeed also found that…
— 90 percent of respondents wouldn’t pay for analysis
— 83 percent ruled out paying for sports highlights
— 79 percent said they wouldn’t pay for live sports online.
— Consumers apparently are more keen to paying for music downloads – 49 percent said they would hand over cash for tracks.

Age plays a role here…
— 86 percent of the 16-24 age range put themselves in the “never” category
— that number rises to 96 percent for the 45-65 age range.

Does all this mean newspapers have no chance of charging for their online platforms? Unsurprisingly, given how much is riding on paid content strategies succeeding, publishers still argue it can work…

News Corp (NYSE: NWS) claims to have research from its Australian division showing people will happily pay.

— Our recent consumer research found that only five percent of readers would pay to read their favourite news site if it introduced a paywall, so it’s not looking good for the the paid content cheerleaders…

— Our research similarly found that while 13 percent of 16-24-year-olds would be prepared to pay for news online, only two percent from the 45-55 category would do the same.

3 Responses to “Research: Nine Out of 10 Consumers Won’t Pay For Online News”

  1. Patrick King

    Hi Patrick, Thanks for the clarification on the survey house and backer – umm, so no industry nepotism there then :-)

    Point taken on itunes and sky – but hey you can get the content they are selling at premium rates for free or next to free on the internet anyway – so why are they still in business? because they are trusted brands and the quality of the user experience is worth paying the premium for. OK raw news is not something worth paying a premium for but a good user experience and value added content surrounding a quality brand is.

    Why is your commentary so anti paywall? as a journalist I would think a good revenue model is worth supporting?

  2. Patrick Smith

    Patrick, the research was commissioned by the research company Global Web Index, more info on them here http://www.globalwebindex.net/

    You can also read our our joint research series done with Harris Interactive in full here http://paidcontent.co.uk/article/419-pcukharris-poll-the-whole-piece-in-links/. We found similar results: consumers don't want to pay for general purpose online news.

    You're right, people already are paying for original content. But BSkyB and iTunes sell completely different kinds of content that has a more lasting value; Reed and Thomson Reuters sell professional information that you can't get anywhere else and company managers are happy to pay for… it's a different story altogether to get people paying for Times Online, when they've got used to paying nothing for it in the last 10 years.

  3. Patrick King

    Whoa – Patrick – how exactly were the "2000 sample" questions phrased? who paid for the survey (advertising house I bet) Did you see the FT.com results ?, Oh and why are subscriptions and micropayments on the up and up with sky, itunes, which, Consumer Union, elsevier, Thompson/Reuters, etc. etc. etc ……?