Less than 4% of Readers are Paying for News Online

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Wednesday, 4th January 2012 by Simon Hilliard

With all the excitement of the Christmas break this little nugget of research information almost slipped past – almost.

A media habits survey by the Oliver & Ohlbaum consultancy found TV remains the news source of choice for consumers, with 75% of respondents turning on the tube for their daily updates. Online is only marginally lagging behind at 68%, and on average online readers are landing on 5.2 sites for their news intake – funnelled along by an RSS feed here and there presumably.

O&O media consumption

Online is outstripping the traditional print newspaper too, but sadly only a small fraction of respondents, 3.8%, are currently paying for online news. A low figure here is not surprising with so many sites offering their content for free – but sub 4% really is low.

Looking solely at mobiles and tablets, the number of payers jumps to 9% and 19% respectively. Paid Content puts this partly “down to the fact that tablet owners are early adopters, with more disposable income” and “the fact that those publishing for tablets have wised up after missing the boat with paid content on the wider Internet.”

Both good facts. It’s also worth considering readers may not begrudge paying for online news if it is mobile, following them on their phone and tablet wherever they wonder – much the way paying for digital music streaming seems more attractive when packaged with a mobile app and subscription.

Where does this leave those humble web editors trying to jazz up there online content? If converting the masses of online readers to paid content relies on readers owning a flash (that is fancy flash, not Flash the video format) tablet or smartphone and publishers putting up cash for device-orientated content, how do you reach the average laptop user who’s still tip-tapping at his keyboard?

Image source: Oliver & Ohlbaum via Paid Content

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