Harris Poll: 77% Won’t Pay for News

Survey after survey shows that roughly 80% of US consumers will not pay for online news content. The latest AdWeek/Harris Poll (2,136 US adults surveyed December 14 – 16, 2009) confirm this but also show that newspapers have larger demographic problems as well:

Less than one quarter of those aged 18-34 (23%) say they read a newspaper almost every day while 17% in this age group say they never read a daily newspaper.

Here’s newspaper readership frequency broken down by age segment:

The highest frequency readership of “newspapers” (print and online) comes from the older segments. I suspect if the question were worded somewhast differently the distribution might be different. For example if it were “how often do you read news online?” frequency would go up for younger users because they’re getting news but maybe not from “newspaper” sites.

The poll found that 23% of respondents would pay for access to news, with most of those willing to pay between $1 and $10 per month:

These data are broadly consistent with past studies that show roughly 80% of users don’t want to pay for online access to news. However there is an outlier survey from the Boston Consulting Group that found 48% of users would pay for access to news online and/or on mobile devices.

Surveys must all be taken with a grain of salt, however. There’s often a distinction between what people say they want or do and what they actually do in practice. But successive survey data are pretty consistent on this question of willingness to pay so we can expect the behavior to mirror attitudes in this case.

The question is, would that 23% in this survey, paying $10 per month, generate enough revenue? In addition, full pay walls will compromise ad revenues so no publication that relies on ad revenue could go to a subscription only approach.

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Related: AP, Yahoo Near Deal on Content Use

Taking a step toward mapping the future of online news, the Associated Press and Yahoo Inc. are closing in on a deal that would impose tighter restrictions and potentially a higher price tag on AP stories distributed on Yahoo’s news site, people familiar with the matter said . . .

Some Internet portals could be reluctant to sign on to a system that gives publishers extensive information and control over content. They might also decide that for all its news-gathering clout, the AP is not so indispensable that portals need to agree to more restrictions to carry its material . . .

But newspaper publishers hope that won’t be the case. In leading the way in these negotiations, the AP “could provide an opportunity for other newspapers and newspaper companies to ride that coattail and cut a similar deal with the aggregators,” said Jim Moroney, publisher of the Dallas Morning News.

2 Responses to “Harris Poll: 77% Won’t Pay for News”

  1. marcelo antelo Says:

    This just confirms that says that the best things on the internet are free, and if it´s not just a very few will pay to use it!

    There are so many other ways to monetize sites (we´re been doing it for years!) why they came with this talk?

    Predicting the future: as soon they starting to charge their revenues will go down, at some point they will try go back just to find out they loose it all!

    It looks their specialists just don´t know what internet is about!

  2. The Future of News is Curators Not Reporters | Sweet Spot Strategy Says:

    […] erode greatly.  Their current strategy is the plan to erect pay walls for their content, which users won’t pay for.  The problem is that users don’t go to one source to get their news online; they browse […]

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