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Survey casts more doubt on paid content
Monday, June 24 2002
by Ciaran Buckley

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Less than 20 percent of Irish consumers are prepared to pay for on-line content, according to a new survey by interactive advertising agency Ican.

The survey found that only 18 percent of the 700 people surveyed would be prepared to pay for daily news and that only 10 percent would be willing to pay for access to news archives. Twenty percent would pay for job-related news, but only 13 percent would pay for sports news.

The content formats for which people were most willing to pay were education and entertainment, at 22 percent.

"The survey didn't ask whether people were currently paying for content, it only asked whether they would be willing to pay for it," Shenda Loughnane, managing director of Ican, told ElectricNews.Net. "It's an important distinction."

Geographic location has some bearing on willingness to pay, according to the survey, which showed 63 percent of respondents would pay for Irish news if they were based outside of Ireland. But age was also a factor: more than 60 percent of those aged 15 to 24 said that they would not be willing to pay for content if they lived outside of Ireland, compared to approximately half of those surveyed between the ages of 25 and 54.

The survey has been released just weeks after Unison.ie, the on-line home of the Irish Independent, said it has seen a sharp rise in visitors following Ireland.com's decision to start charging for access. Ireland.com blocked off free access to the on-line version of the Irish Times newspaper starting early in June and now charges readers EUR79 per year. Ireland.com has claimed that its subscription-based model has been successful to date, although it has not provided figures to back up this claim.

In the US, political and cultural magazine Salon.com has released figures showing that 41 percent of its revenues now come from paid subscriptions, although advertising is a stronger source of income.

The results from Ican are consistent with a recent report by Jupiter Research, which found that consumers continue to expect free content from on-line providers, although they are somewhat resigned to paying for content in the future.

The Ican survey was conducted at various on-line media sites in Ireland such as The Examiner and 98FM. Ninety-nine percent of respondents identified themselves as Irish residents.

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