What’s Your Online Content Worth Global Consumers Say It Depends

What’s Your Online Content Worth Global Consumers Say It Depends

Across countries, demographics and content types, consumers have diverse attitudes about paying for content online.

Nic Covey, Director of Cross-Platform Insights, The Nielsen Company

The big question in the new Internet decade is whether consumers will pay for content online.  It turns out that millions of global consumers are, in fact, willing to pay up… but not for everything.  For example, consumers are three times as likely to pay for online music than for a blog.

Consumers weigh in

Nielsen recently conducted a global survey of more than 27,000 consumers in 54 countries to examine attitudes about paying for online content and to determine which content types consumers were most willing to support financially.  The findings show that many consumers are willing to pay for online content or are open to increased advertising to pick up the costs, but attitudes vary greatly by geography, demographics and content type.

Paying for (perceived) quality

Consumers show a higher propensity to pay for music, movies, games and professionally produced video than for podcasts, blogs or consumer generated video.  This validates the notion that consumers globally still place more value on content produced by “professionals” than by other consumers.  Likewise, they are more inclined to spend money on what they already pay for, rather than on what they currently get for free.

Percent of global online consumers who have paid OR would consider paying for various types of content online – Fall 2009
Music 57%
Theatrical movies 57%
Games 51%
Professional produced video (including current television shows) 50%
Magazines 49%
Newspapers 42%
Internet-only news sources 36%
Radio (Music) 32%
Podcasts 28%
Social communities 28%
Radio (News/Talk) 26%
Consumer-generated video 24%
Blogs 20%

Source: The Nielsen Company.  n=27,548

While it may seem obvious that consumers are more willing to pay for professional content than amateur, the reality shouldn’t be taken for granted: to consumers, not all content is created equal.

Bring on the ads (in the Middle East, at least)

Overall willingness to pay for online content may surprise some, but more surprising yet is the extent to which consumers in some markets are still open to more advertising.  Nearly half (47%) of global respondents said they would put up with more ads to subsidize free content, but that willingness swings by market.

While 57% of respondents in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan are open to the more advertising – as are 55% of those in Asia Pacific – just 40% of North America respondents and 39% of European respondents agree.

Later this month we’ll release the broader findings of this study.  The paper will reveal many of the regional, demographic and content nuances of willingness to pay for online content.  The key takeaway is this: across geographies, demographics and content types, consumers think very differently about how they’ll pay for content.  Accordingly, monetization models will have to be flexible – there will have to be more, not fewer, options to supporting the cost of content.


  • The future of monetization will include a much broader range of revenue models than exist today
  • Good and useful content will always find patrons.

A timely conversation

On Friday, January 8, at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, I’ll join a panel of colleagues to discuss “Predictions and Opportunities for Media Monetization.” CES is an appropriate place to have this conversation: there we’ll see the latest tech gadgets that will offer consumers even more anytime, anywhere access to both free, and paid content.