How Many Would Pay For Content? Researchers Can’t Decide

After our PCUK/Harris poll in September, there’s been no shortage of research on people’s willingness to pay for online content.

But while one thing is consistent (only a minority say they want to pay), research agencies can’t agree on how big that minority percentage really is. Our analysis shows wide disparities between the leading studies on the year’s most pressing topic

Pick your survey and take your chances. Research methods, of course, can vary subtly, making all the difference, so here’s a link summary to all those methodologies, where available…

PCUK/Harris Poll (five percent of 1,888 UK adults said they would pay if their favourite online newspaper began charging).

Gfk (total 18 percent of UK adults in international survey of 16,800 said they didn’t want to would pay for “content”, ie. “news, entertainment and information sites such as Wikipedia”).

Continental (total 37 percent of 500 UK adults said they would pay micropayment, larger fee or monthly/annual sub for online newspaper/mag).

Olswang/YouGov (total 19 percent of 1,013 UK adults and 536 teens said they would make micropayments frequently, a subscription or otherwise pay for news articles online, on mobile or ereaders if there was no free alternative).

Oliver and Ohlbaum (“15 to 20 percent of respondents [survey of 2,600 UK consumers] said they would pay £2 a month for their favourite news website if it was the only one that charged”).

Forrester (total 19 percent of 4,711 US consumers said they would make micropayment, pay a sub or buy a bundled print/web/mobile package for online newspaper).

Boston Consulting Group (48 percent of 5,083 regular internet users in nine countries, including 506 in UK, said they would pay for online news).

KPMG (11 percent of 1,037 people aged 16 and over “currently spend anything on online media” – findings vary for different media types).

Let’s try a new number. Taking all eight studies in to account, the mean proportion of consumers who would pay for online content is 21.8 percent. Any advances… ?