PCUK/Harris Poll: Readers Prefer Subscriptions To Micropayments

On Monday, we revealed how, if their favourite news site started charging for content, just five percent of Brits would pay. So exactly how would users prefer to cough up their cash?

Day two in our exclusive paidContent:UK/Harris Interactive poll shows that a long-term subscription, and not micropayments, is by far the most attractive option to consumers

(Return to paidContent:UK on Wednesday and Thursday to learn readers’ all-important favoured pricepoint and more).

We asked users who read a news site at least once a month what their favoured option would be if they either chose to pay for their favourite site or were forced to pay by all news sites going pay-for…

Per-article fees (ie. micropayments) are the favourite option for 21 percent.

A day pass giving unlimited articles within a 24-hour period is favoured by 26 percent.

— But a subscription of up to a year is the most desired model, supported by 54 percent.

The findings may surprise advocates of what are often called “iTunes-style” “micro” payments – an ironic description since, while App Store downloads are blissfully effortless, its pay-for apps, which come at a minimum £0.59, are far from micro in price.

Annual subscriptions are already commonplace amongst B2B magazines and business newspapers like FT.com and WSJ.com. In music, Spotify operates a £120 annual membership as well as its £9.99-a-month and £0.99-a-day tiers. And many consumers are used to paying monthly for TV services like BSkyB (NYSE: BSY), and home utilities.

No matter what the price, any model that asks readers to pay once (or only occasionally) is likely to be far less complex and more workable than a system requiring transactions for every individual piece of content. But, while certain specialist publishers should prove able to sell their unique content in this way, we at paidContent:UK remain uncertain that mass-market newspapers, whose content has long been free online, can successfully attract paying customers through any of these models if they do not differentiate or offer significant value-adds.

“There’s been a lot of buzz about micro-payment recently, and some prominent players, like Google (NSDQ: GOOG), have moved into this field