Eight in 10 US adults are willing to pay “nothing” per month to read a daily newspaper’s content online, according to an Adweek/Harris Poll conducted in March 2011. Of the one in five who would pay, 14% said they would pay between $1 and $10 per month while very few said that they would be willing to pay between $11 and $20 (4%) or more than $20 per month (2%).
Interestingly, poll data indicates that while online paywalls are becoming more common, fewer people say they would be willing to pay to read content online now than said so in December 2009. Only 20% say they would be willing to pay for a daily newspaper’s content online today, compared to 23% who said so in December 2009.
In December 2009, respondents also showed an overwhelming willingness to only pay between $1 and $10 per month to read online daily newspaper content.
There is a direct correlation between respondent age and willingness to pay, with 26% of 18-to-34-year-olds but only 17% of those 55 and older saying they would pay for access to online daily newspaper content. The rate of willingness steadily deceases with each older age demographic.
Strong differentials exist in the willingness to pay of men compared to women and college graduates compared to those with less education. For example, 25% of men say they would pay to read an online daily newspaper, making them two-thirds more likely than women (15%).
In addition, 28% of college graduates expressed a willingness to pay, close to 50% higher than the 19% of those with some college and almost double the 15% of those with a high school diploma or less who are willing to pay for the privilege.
A March 2011 Pew Research survey asked about the willingness of people to pay for an online subscription to their local newspaper if the paper otherwise could not survive. People were asked “If the only way to get full access to your local newspaper online on your computer, cell phone or other device was to pay a … monthly subscription fee, would you pay it or not?” While currently 5% of adults report paying for local news content online, nearly a quarter (23%) say that they would be willing to pay at least a small amount if that were the only way to access their local newspaper.
That figure dropped to 18% among respondents who were asked if they would pay $10 per month. In both questions, roughly three-quarters of adults say they would not be willing to pay for online access to their local newspaper, even if it was the only way to access the newspaper’s content.
About the Data: This Adweek/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 29 and 31, 2011 among 2,105 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.
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