Of newspapers that don’t currently charge for online content, 85% may or will charge at some point, according to [pdf] an April 2011 study from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Reynolds Journalism Institute. Results from “The Push to Paid” indicate 35% of these newspapers plan to charge for online content in the next 12 months, while 50% may charge at some point.
2 in 3 Publishers Believe Consumers Will Pay
Interestingly, the percentage of newspaper publishers who definitely believe customers will pay for online content is smaller than the combined percentage of newspapers that will or may charge for online content. Two-thirds (67%) of publishers disagreed with the statement, “I don’t think we’ll ever be able to get customers to pay for online content,” while 14% agreed and 19% were neutral.
Almost Half of Publishers Think Paid Content Revenue Will Be Negligible in Next 12 Months
Close to half (48%) of publishers say they think paid content revenue will be negligible in the next 12 months. Another 34% believe paid content will contribute up to 20% of digital revenue in that time, while only 12% think it will contribute 20% or more.
6 in 10 Publishers See No Paid Content Impact on Print
About six in 10 (58%) newspaper publishers do not expect paid digital content to have any impact on print circulation. Roughly one-third (35%) think paid digital content will slow or stop circulation decreases, and 4% think it will actually increase print circulation.
6 in 10 Publishers Say Paid Content Will Cut Page Views
When it comes to online page views, a combined 59% of publishers think paid content will decrease them by up to 20% (38%) or more than 20% (21%). Another 34% do not think paid content will have any effect on page views.
Smaller Papers More Likely to Charge for Online Content
Overall, four in 10 newspapers are charging for some online content, according to other study results. Analyzing that figure by newspaper size, it becomes apparent smaller newspapers are ahead of larger newspapers in this area of digital content. Forty-six percent of newspapers with a circulation of less than 25,000 are charging for some online content, compared to 24% of those with circulation of more than 25,000.
About the Data: The University of Missouri School of Journalism and Reynolds Journalism Institute conducted phone interviews with 301 US newspaper publishers from April 1-18, 2011.