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March 30 2011


Canadians don’t want to pay for the news online

In the week the New York Times introduced digital subscriptions, a Canadian study shows that consumers just don’t want to pay for the news.

An online survey of 1,682 adults, conducted by the Canadian Media Research Consortium (CMRC )and Vision Critical, showed that Canadians are overwhelmingly opposed to fees for content.

It found that 92% of Canadians who get news online say they would find another free site if their favourite news site started charging for content.

The findings suggest that news as an online commodity has little monetary value in the eyes of the consumer. What is less clear is whether people would pay for the service and convenience of having the news packaged in emerging delivery mechanisms, such as an iPhone/iPad app.

Among the other key findings:

  • 81% say they definitely will not pay to continue reading their favourite online news site.
  • Up to 30% indicate they would definitely or probably pay, if there were no other choice.
  • Charges are most acceptable for breaking news (28%) or hard news (22%). 19% indicate they would pay for international news and 16% would purchase feature and analytical news.

Perhaps not surprising, most news consumers (82%) were happy to accept advertising alongside content, if it meant the news was free

Canadians, though, are more willing to pay for music, games, movies, e- books and even ringtones online than they are to pay for news.  But it is only a minority: 26% cent already pay for music; 19% pay for games; 9% for movies; 8% for e-books and 12% for ringtones.

I am part of the research team behind the study, which is the first in a series of reports that looks into the changing news consumption habits of Canadians.

The full report is available as a PDF download.



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