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Payment for Content Doubles in Q3
--research from Online Publishers Association--

 5:30 pm on Dec 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

A new study from Online Publishers Association shows that:

1. 14.8 million US consumers paid for at least some content in Q3 this year, up from 7.9 million in 2001

2. The total that US consumers paid for content in Q3 was $361.4 million, a jump of 105% over the same quarter last year.

Paid Content Study [online-publishers.org]

Links for Other Research [online-publishers.org]



 4:53 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Whoa, that's quite an increase. Is it just views and perceptions have changed, or is it a change in the model?


 5:37 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think it is mostly a matter of definition.

Most of us, I think consider "online paid content" to be information rather than services.

This report includes the category of personals/dating services (such as match.com and singles.com) which accounts for almost all of the growth.

It also includes games which I think most would exclude from their definition of content.

Interestingly, it excludes porn which I think most people would define as "online content." The obvious reason, the results would swamp all other categories.

In addition, the base numbers are so small that large percentage changes are not really interesting.


 7:20 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

I find this interesting for those who have products in this price range.

General News showed phenomenal growth in single purchases, going from $604,000
in all of 2001 to almost $9 million in just the first three quarters of 2002. The singlepurchase
growth in that category came primarily in the $5-$49.99 price range.


 7:29 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

Those are good observations, figment88. I think there's still useful detail in the report, after you weed through the headlines they selected for hyping purposes. For instance:

"While micropayments were up incrementally in almost all categories, general news saw a drop in micropayments and a move to more purchases in the $5 to $49.99 range."

The study calls $5 to $49.99 the "sweet spot". But when it comes to business models in general, they still acknowledge the infancy of the market, and "if there is any trend in subscription length, it's still that anything goes".


 7:39 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

The numbers are just so small it is so easy for outliers to affect the results. This is very similiar to the silly Alexa argument that just went on.

For example, I'm guessing that a big bulk of the online news category is accounted for solely by the wall street journal. Just because the wsj can sell online subscriptions doesn't mean Salon can or a mom n' pop operation can which is the implication of the report.

1) Many wsj subscriptions are probably paid for by business accounts
2) WSJ gives a deep discount for offline subscribers - I bet the report counts the full subscription price
3) WSJ has a money back guarantee. I doubt these are significant but I bet refunded subscriptions are not accounted for in the report.

I'd certainly like to see online publishing suceed, but I don't think it is doing to great right now. The authors of this report have an axe to grind, and the blade is getting sharp.


 7:06 am on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree with Figment88. If you look at the companies who make up the membership of the OPA, they are all companies who are trying to sell subscriptions to online content. Thus, anything coming out of their mouths is going to sound as if online subscriptions is going through the roof.

But I don't disagree that the market is going up. I just don't think it is substantial enough to get wet over.


 12:08 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

This study is based on what Media Metrix enabled internet users did. I would venture forth that those who believe in the internet and its security enough to allow themselves to be tracked by Media Metrix are far more likely to buy content or anything else for that matter online.
I also bet if you ran a similar study with the panelists including only those with ad blockers the results would be a lot different. You can get better estimates by hand figuring the American subscribers to the top 100 pay sites I would imagine.

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