UK consumers turn away from paid-for media

20 April 2010

LONDON: More consumers in the UK are turning away from paid-for media like newspapers and magazines, but a majority also remain unwilling to pay for this kind of material online.

KPMG, the consultancy, partnered with YouGov, the research firm, to survey 1,000 people in the country in order to gain an insight into their current media habits.

Overall, the average consumer's outlay on traditional paid-for media like newspapers and magazines was found to have declined from £9.19 ($14; €10) in September 2009 to £7.46 in March 2010.

Despite this, the typical usage of all traditional media channels jumped from 11 hours 40 minutes in September last year to 12 hours 13 minutes in March this year.

More specifically, 21% of participants who read daily newspapers had not purchased a single copy in March, with 19% saying the same for buying magazines, figures that had climbed by around 6% since September.

Similarly, the normal expenditure level for accessing content on digital channels like the internet and mobile decreased from £1.99 to £0.98 in this period.

Once again, this failed to mirror the broader market trend, as consumers dedicated 7 hours 28 minutes to new media in March 2010, measured against a figure of 6 hours 14 minutes in September 2009.

The number of contributors who had only viewed free online news material also rose from 84% to 88% in this timeframe, indicating the challenges facing publishers seeking to introduce paywalls.

Looking forward, only 10% of the panel said they were likely to become paid subscribers to any media products in the next year, with 16–24 year olds the most willing to pay for content hosted on the net.

Of this latter group, 55% said they would be prepared to splash out on music, falling to 45% for film, 31% for newspaper and magazine articles and 30% for TV shows available on the web.

Using social networks and blogging sites was the most popular online activity, with 50% of respondents regularly engaging in this pastime, up from 47% six month ago.

The greatest uptick on this measure was actually among 45–54 year olds, a demographic that posted an improvement from 37% to 45% between the two surveys.

Some 24% of those taking part in the poll had also utilised a video-on-demand services to stream at least one TV programme in March 2010, an increase from 19% in September 2009.

Elsewhere, 43% of the sample as a whole expressed a preference for traditional media, compared with a quarter who favoured the web and a third who said it "didn't make a difference."

"It is early days with new technologies like VOD, 3DTV and e-readers, but they are examples of the innovations and platforms which can help drive new areas of revenue of the media sector in a digital age," said David Elms, head of media at KPMG.
"Creating integrated business models which make the most of both traditional and digital business models is therefore key for the sector."

Data sourced from KPMG; additional content by Warc staff