What digital consumers will and will not pay for
Time Warner and Comcast’s TV Everywhere project can take a lesson from a recent Nielsen study on consumers’ digital media habits.
According to a survey of more than 27,000 consumers across 52 countries, nearly 80% of respondents “believe that if they already subscribe to a newspaper, magazine, radio or television service they should be able to use its online content for free.”
That’s along the lines of what TV Everywhere and services like it, such as HBO Go, propose to do: give subscribers online access to their subscription TV service anywhere they may be, and throw some value-added content into the mix while they’re at it. I’m a fan of that plan. I don’t understand how Hulu makes money for anyone as an ad-supported free model, and while everyone I know who uses Hulu loves it and will become purple-faced when it moves to a pay-for-play model, my bills are paid by the TV industry. Along those lines, I write off my cable service but we still frequently complain in my household about our hefty cable/phone/Internet bill. We’re both geeks of one sort of another, so we’d appreciate some added bells and whistles like anywhere/everywhere online access even more than that other new Comcast service in which the phone number of an incoming caller flashes across the TV screen.
There were some other notable facts in Nielsen’s study to which cable companies should pay attention:
Those same people who believe they should get free online access to content for which they are already paying, also believe that once they purchase content, it should be theirs to copy or share with whomever they want. Begone, pesky DRM limitations!
Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come: 71% of global consumers say online content of any kind has to be considerably better than what is currently free before they will be willing to open their wallets.
What they are willing to pay for online is content they already pay for off-line: movies, music, games and professionally-produced video (like TV shows). Further down on the list are services people already get for free: news, Internet radio, social networking, podcasts and talk radio. Lowest on the list is user-generated content, including videos and blogs.
In fact, digital consumers already have been trained that almost anything they want online is available somewhere for free: “nearly eight out of every ten consumers would no longer use a web site that charges them, presuming they can find the same information at no cost.”
And they aren’t sympathetic to companies’ complaints that creating great content is expensive: “they are ambivalent about whether the quality of online content would suffer if companies could not charge for it—34% think so, while 30% do not; 36% have no firm opinion.”
For more information on Nielsen’s study on whether consumers would be willing to pay for content they now get for free online, please go to: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/reports/paid-online-content.pdf.