Research: Readers Favour News Micropayments — But They’ll Only Pay Pennies

Sure, some readers will pay for online news content via single-article micropayments, but only if the price tag is very low. That’s according to a report from analysts at Continental Research, which found that 63 percent of a 500-person survey ruled out paying for online news content. Of those that would consider getting their wallets out to pay for Times Online and the rest, three quarters agreed their upper price limit was a measly 10p.

Continental’s head of research James Myring says some paid content is better than none: “The amounts may sound small, but it is better to get a lot of people making small one-off payments than virtually no one paying a higher subscription.” But is 10p an article from a minority of the public enough on which to base a digital-business model?

Our own research series on paywall attitudes in September found that even fewer readers would be prepared to pay — just five percent — and that 96 percent of readers would pay no more than 10p for a single article.

— Continental’s survey uncovers a sceptical attitude to the long-term deal News International and others hope to sell: just five percent would buy such a subscription. Our research found that over half of online readers preferred monthly or yearly subscription deals to other models. Other findings:

— 21 percent of respondents to the Continental survey said they would consider paying for individual articles.

— The likelihood of users paying drops dramatically with even the slightest increase in price per article: at 2p per article, 35 percent would pay but that falls to just seven percent at 20p. To put that in context, it only costs 30p to buy The Sun in every newsagent in the country.

— Publishers like News International are putting a lot of faith in their readers’ love of their big-name columnists as an online paid-content incentive, and Continental asked people which writers they would pay for. Sun and Sunday Times columnist Jeremy Clarkson comes out on top, followed by The Guardian‘s Charlie Brooker and the Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn.