PCUK/Harris Poll: How Much Do Readers Say They’d Pay? Very Little

So far, in our exclusive paidContent:UK/Harris Interactive poll, we’ve learned that only five percent of regular news site users would pay if their favourite haunt started charging, and that readers would prefer to subscribe annually.

But the all-important question is: how much would they be prepared to pay? Answer: as close to nothing as they can get away with

When asked the maximum amount they would be prepared to pay, respondents who read a free news site at least once a month gave us the lowest possible amount in each category – annual subscriptions under £10, a day pass costing under £0.25 and per-article fees of between 1p and 2p.

That’s a wake-up call to publishers who think their content is worth something – in this day and age, it will have to work hard to earn a fee.

And bear in mind that most of these readers said they did not want to pay – their answers suggest they may pay even less or not at all.

Even an annual news site fee of about £15 (the kind of price a fifth of of those who favoured annual subscriptions said they would pay) is about 17 times less than a reader of a printed quality newspaper would pay out over the same year.

“If paywalls are put up – there is another interesting question: how accepting will people be that there is still advertising on it?,” Harris’ senior tech, media and telecoms consultant Andrew Freeman tells us.

“Most readers are confident that ‘the advertising pays, but this is to massively over-rate their individual value: each ad they see pays the publisher mere fractions of a penny.”

(Thursday’s final installment: will bundling a newspaper subscription help?).

Methodology: Harris Interactive surveyed 1,188 adults (aged 16-64) online within the UK between August 26 and September 2, 2009. Figures for age, sex, education, region and internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents