9 out of 10 Indians want free online content : Nielsen survey

Mumbai: Nearly nine out of ten Indians believe that free content on the Internet should remain free in the future. However, three fourth of the Indians are willing to pay for the content if the quality is significantly better than what is currently free online, according to a survey conducted by The Nielsen Company.

As per the survey, 70 percent Indians are willing to pay for online content if they get the right to copy it and share it with others. 63 percent will pay if the payment system is easy to use and 61 percent Indians are willing to pay for the same content online if the costs are comparable to what they currently pay off-line for it. Nearly seven in ten Indians (69%) would rather pay for individual pieces of content instead of subscribing to the entire website. Three fourth of the consumers will stop using the website if they have to pay for the content because they can find the same information on a free site.

“Internet is a huge space and content is available for free at the click of a button. Out there exists immense quantity of information but most of it lacks in quality, and this stress on quality by consumers will be a major factor in driving consumers to pay for online content,” said Karthik Nagarajan, Associate Director – Nielsen Online, The Nielsen Company.

The Nielsen survey polled more than 27,000 consumers in 54 countries globally and examined consumer attitudes to paying for online content. Results show that 29 percent Indians have already paid for books, while 19 percent have paid for online magazines, and 18 percent have paid for music. When asked on what they would consider paying for in the future (see chart), half the Indian consumers said they were prepared to pay for books (50%), magazines & music (both 47%), and professionally produced videos, including current television shows (46%). Many consumers also indicated they would consider paying for theatrical movies (45%) and games (44%).

When it came to news content online – perhaps the most hotly debated of any of the paid-for content model discussions, just ten percent of Indian consumers said they had previously paid for Internet-only news, and twelve percent had paid for newspaper content online in the past. Asked whether they would consider paying for online newspapers or Internet-only news sources in the future, nearly half said they would not (both 49 %).

Conversely, a majority of consumers in India are not prepared to pay for consumer-generated content such as blogs (70%), social communities (61%), and consumer generated video (60%), although interestingly Asia Pacific consumers are more willing to pay for consumer-generated video than any other region. Radio and podcasts also fared poorly in the study with 66 percent Indians not willing to pay for news/talk radio and 60 percent not willing to shell out for podcasts. 58 percent Indians will also not consider paying for music on the radio.

The Nielsen survey highlights a growing acceptance amongst Indian consumers for the need for some form of paid-for content models – nearly half the Indian consumers (48%) concede quality of content on the Internet will decline unless companies can charge for it. More than six out of ten (66%) Indians will also accept more advertising on the Internet in the future to support the cost of content. However, consumers drew the line at combining online advertising with paid-for content, with more than half the consumers (54%) saying that there should be no advertising on the Internet content that they have paid for.

Interestingly nearly eight in ten (78%) Indians feel that their existing off-line subscriptions to services such as newspapers, magazines, radio or television should extend to the online medium. A majority of Indians (60%) also believe that content on the internet should be supported by a combination of advertising and content fees.

“Consumers have a much higher propensity to pay for content which they know has been professionally produced such as music, movies, games, but are reluctant to pay for online content that has been generated by fellow consumers, such as blogs, etc. Considering the fragmented attitude of consumers to pay for online content, the content providers will have to offer multiple options to entice the choosy consumers,” said Nagarajan.

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