Most online content should be free, say users

It’s not the conclusive answer they were probably hoping for, but Nielsen has found from a massive survey that people ‘might’ be prepared to pay for online content.

They’re most likely to fork out for the sort of thing they’re used to paying for already, such as movies, music and games – more than half said this was fine.

Possibly because of this view, the young were far more likely than the old to say they were prepared to pay.

Three-quarters of the 27,000 participants believe if they already subscribe to a newspaper, magazine, radio or television service they should be able to use its online content for free.

And 71 percent say online content of any kind will have to improve  before they will pay for it – take note, Rupert Murdoch.

Nearly eight out of every ten said they would no longer use a web site that charges them, reckoning they can find the same information for nothing.

And 62 percent said that once they’ve purchased content, it should be theirs to copy or share at will.

There was no consensus as to whether the quality of online content would suffer if companies couldn’t charge for it. A third thought it would; a third thought it woudln’t and a third said they had no firm opinion.

“Despite the growing consensus that the media may only be able to generate appreciable online revenues by charging consumers for content, there is little agreement on just how to do that,” observes Nielsen.

“Regardless of what systems they choose, media companies will almost certainly not abandon advertising; and consumers will doubtless still see ads along with paid content.”