A recent study by the research organization Pew Internet makes online content producers happy. Among the finding of the survey, the most impressive one is that 65 per cent of users have paid for accessing or downloading online content.

Online content is frequently a victim of piracy and outright theft and this brings content producers many sleepless nights. Additionally, when so many things on the Net are free, users get used to the fact that everything they like is free and frown when they have to pay to access something they believe are they entitled to get.

The survey by Pew Internet shows a change in attitude. According to the data in the survey, now the majority of users -- or 65 per cent of them, to be more precise -- are actually paying for accessing or downloading online content. These figures are very encouraging because they show that the market has matured. Now, when users are glad to pay for online content they deem valuable, the business outlook for online content production gets brighter and brighter.

What Content Do Users Pay for?

The survey didn't study all the goods and services users pay for online. Rather, it focused on intangible goods only, such as “software, articles, and music that need not have a physical form.” -- i.e. the items that are most frequently subject to piracy. The survey deliberately excluded the “purchase of “tangible” products such as clothes, CDs, books or computers, or tangible services such as hotel reservations or airline tickets” though some of these items can also be considered content.

After these necessary clarifications about what has been excluded from the survey,  here is the data about the preferred types of content users pay for:


It is obvious that the lion's share goes to music and software. Mobile apps, games, ringtones and movies are also popular and users are willing to spend their money on them. With the increasing power and role of mobile devices, it can be predicted that the share of mobile-related stuff will increase in the future.

The sum of percentages exceeds 100 because more than half of the respondents have purchased from two or more of the groups. This shows that the purchase wasn't incidental and that a group of users, who are regularly paying for content has emerged.

How Much Do Users Spend for Online Content?

While the numbers of users paying for online content are encouraging, the amounts they spend a month are still very low. The average user spends around US$ 10 a month for online content, though there is a small group of users who spend hundreds of dollars a month. Subscription payments are still low (US$ 12 a month) and one-time purchases/downloads lead with US$ 22 average on month. These budgets are not high but if valuable content is available, chances are that users will increase their spending for online content.