Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

It’s official: we don’t really mind paying for content. (Who’s ‘we’?)

Nielsen recently reported that, despite the availability of free content, tablet users are still very willing to pay for music, books, movies, and even streaming radio. Everything except news, which, unsurprisingly, tablet users overwhelmingly do not want to pay for.

US tablet users less willing to pay for news content than Italian counterparts


(For those of us not “official” enough to access full Nielsen reports, TechCrunch offers a nice summary.)

That 44% of Italian tablet users have paid for tablet news, where the rest of us haven’t, kind of gave me a start. Why are they twice as more likely to pay for news? Do they have better news? Or are their tablet users of a different demographic than ours? As one TechCrunch commenter noted, these surveys can be frustratingly vague on some points.

Who, exactly, are we talking about when we say “tablet users”? And how do they differ from digital consumers overall?

I don’t propose to have the answers to these questions. But the following data, also from Nielsen, might help shed some light on who these American tablet users are. (Or were in 2011.)

I was actually kind of surprised to see that last year’s numbers showed tablet users getting older, not younger: tablet use is on the rise in users age 35 and up.

Is an older demographic more willing to pay for content than a younger one? I would be willing to bet that’s the case.

Another cross-reference I’d like to see is the numbers on free versus pirated content. Obviously, there are tons of free news sites available, and it’s completely legal. But it seems to me that new authors, musicians, and artists might be willing to give their ebooks and MP3s away just to build an audience. Are tablet users pirating the content they’re not paying for? Is it legitimately free? Or are more than half of tablet users just spending all their time eschewing content and playing Angry Birds?

So before I get excited that digital users are still embracing paid content, I’d want to know exactly who these tablet users are. Because if the younger demographic is still firmly entrenched in the culture of free, we’ve still got plenty to worry about.

3 comments on “It’s official: we don’t really mind paying for content. (Who’s ‘we’?)

  1. Andy Dost (@eaglie)
    March 20, 2012
  2. Claire Schulz
    March 20, 2012

    Thanks for that, Andy! I wonder what percentage of NYT readers actually read it on a tablet (since those are the users that this Nielsen survey quantifies)?

  3. Pingback: What’s the cost of credibility? « appazoogle

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2012 by in Culture, Technology and tagged , , .

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