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