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UK Web Users Willing to Pay for Music, Video, Sports Content

Content consumers use a mixture of paid and free

September 21, 2015 | Advertising & Marketing

With so much free content available online, supported by ads, it’s not surprising many web users are reluctant to pay for more. But better content libraries and convenient ways to transact have made paid content a reality for many—especially in the UK, according to research.

Digital Video Viewers in Select Countries in Western Europe Who Have Accessed Paid vs. Free Digital Video Content*, by Method, Jan 2015 (% of respondents)

According to the European Commission (EC), 59% of UK digital video viewers had paid to access or download content as of January 2015. That was more than any other Western European country studied except Denmark, just ahead at 61%. More UK digital video viewers had accessed or downloaded content for free, but at 72%, the UK lagged by this metric.

When it came to digital music, listeners in the UK were more likely to have paid for content than those anywhere else, at 64%. Denmark was far behind, at 49%, and Sweden came in second, at 61%. This time, fewer UK digital music listeners had gotten content for free (58%), again putting the UK behind other Western European countries in terms of free listening.

The picture was similar for ebooks. Nearly eight in 10 UK ebook readers had paid to access or download content, ahead of every other country. Meanwhile, 55% of UK ebook readers had accessed free ebooks—leaving it in second-to-last place by this metric.

When it came to digital sports content, 43% of UK internet users who had accessed this type of content had paid to do so, vs. 69% who got it for free. Once again, this put the UK at the top of the list of Western European countries surveyed on the paid content side and below the average for free content.

UK Internet Users Who Download/Stream Paid vs. Free Digital Content, by Type, June 2015 (% of respondents)

According to the UK Intellectual Property Office, internet users in the country access a variety of free and paid content, with the mix depending largely on the content type.

Polling from Lightspeed GMI conducted in May 2015 put a different spin on paid content patterns in Europe. According to that survey, 17.1% of internet users in the UK had paid for streaming music in the past month—below the 18.6% average for the European countries studied and below several including Norway, Romania and Sweden.

The same Lightspeed research found 22.7% of UK internet users had paid for streaming TV or video in the month leading up to May 2015 polling. That was slightly above the 22.2% average for the countries studied, but low enough to put the UK No. 8 on the list behind Romania, Norway, Bulgaria and more.

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