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Survey: Consumers will pay for online content if it's worth the price

February 16, 2010 |  3:37 pm

In a recent survey of 27,000 Web users in 52 countries, Nielsen found that 85% of respondents would like to see free Web content stay free.

But when asked if they would be willing to pay for specific kinds of Web-based content, the results were not as black and white.

More than 50% of respondents said they would actually pay for online movies, music, or games.  Many of them said, however, that the paid content would need to be "considerably better" than current free content before they'd shell out for it.

The role of print

Paid content

According to Nielsen, almost 50% of respondents would consider paying for online access to a magazine, while a little over 40% said they would pay for newspaper content on the Web. That could be a positive sign for the struggling print industry -- though the thorny question remains: how to make that product worth paying for?

In a potential effort to do that, Wired unveiled a video today demonstrating how its magazine would run on a tablet computer. Last December, Time Inc. showed off a tablet version of Sports Illustrated. No price has been announced on either product.

Still, consensus on the pay question has been elusive across the industry. According to Gawker, two factions within the New York Times are battling over what to charge for an iPad version of the paper. One group says the company should charge $20 to $30 per month for access to its content, Gawker said, while the other group thinks $10 per month is a fair price.

As more experiments in for-pay content emerge this year, questions of what's fair and what's feasible may begin to find some answers.  But this study and others hold out the possibility that there's an answer out there somewhere.

-- Don Reisinger

twitter.com/donreisinger

Image: Consumer willingness to pay for online content. Credit: The Nielsen Company

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