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Obvious: People Don’t Want to Pay for Online News

Poll Details the Desires and Alternatives

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Paid Content UK conducted a Poll with Harris Interactive, asking respondents how much they would pay for online news, and what they would do if they’re favorite news sites started charging. The findings, perhaps not so shocking, indicate that users basically don’t really want to pay.

Paid Content’s Robert Andrews says they’ve "learned that only five percent of regular news site users would pay if their favorite haunt started charging, and that readers would prefer to subscribe annually."

Even for annual subscriptions, users don’t appear to be prepared to spend too much. As you can see from Paid Content’s graph (below), the higher the price goes, the less the percentage of users who wish to pay it for an annual subscription.

PaidContentUK - Annual Subscriptions

So if they don’t want to pay, or they want to pay very little, what would they do if their favorite site(s) began charging for content? Well, most would just go somewhere else for their content and find a new favorite site. According to the findings from the poll, as many as 74% would simply find an alternative free site. In addition, 8% would use the site’s free headlines only, 12% are not sure what they would do, and only 5% would pay to continue reading.

You have to wonder if the big publishers out there considering a paid-subscription model are paying attention to this info. "If Rupert Murdoch thinks readers will pay to read his websites, maybe he should think again," says Andrews.

"Bitten by the low prices of online ads and the recent slowdown in advertising generally, News Corp is not alone in re-examining the financial viability of online news provision," he adds. "Other publishers, too, are considering models including charging-for-content, readers’ clubs with value-added extras, selling physical merchandise and memorabilia and even reader donations."

The poll goes on to look at more specific details about demographics such as age, class, and region, to see who is willing to pay for online news. The option of finding another free site pretty much remains consistent across the board.

Obvious: People Don’t Want to Pay for Online News
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  • http://www.trackermo.com Tracker Mo

    These publishing sites really need to hire a few i-mktg experts.

    Mktg 101:
    Fine, have a membership requirement– but keep a free membership option. In doing so, you at least know WHO is visiting your page.

    You can also offer no-ad alternatives for paid subscriptions.

    There is so much they could do with this… it makes an experienced i-mkter cry to watch huge sites leave so much on the table.

    • Chris Crum

      Some think some simple SEO tactics could go a long way. This was discussed at SES a while back.

  • http://texxsmith.com texxs

    How about this question: “Would you be willing to pay if there were adverts for paying members?”

    The problem with the Rupert Murdocks is that there just greedy. It’s just like a newspaper or magazine. the cost of the newspaper or magazine is just a greed fee. They are still profitable even when free.

  • Guest

    Even if they offer ad free for paid subscribers how long do you think that would last? Years ago when I first got a computer I paid extra for a ISP that advertised “no ads ever”. Well that didn’t last long. Once you sign up they will eventually sneak them in and life goes on.