BERLIN: One quarter of internet users in Germany are paying for journalistic content and many more agree with the idea in principle a new survey has said.

High-tech association BITKOM polled a representative sample of 766 internet users over the age of 14 and found that, in addition to the 25% already parting with money for editorial content, 31% of those not currently paying agreed in principle with the idea. That amounted to a potential market of 12m people.

"The so-called free culture on the Internet is less pronounced than is always assumed," said BITKOM vice president Achim Berg. "Many consumers are willing to pay for interesting editorial content on the web if the price is reasonable and they can pay easily," he added.

BITKOM suggested there was much untapped potential for specialised online news, reports, interviews and comments.

The survey further revealed that 17% of respondents paid money for articles while the same proportion were paying a monthly fee in the form of a subscription. The average cost per month was €13.60.

In terms of the profile of paying users, most were to be found in the 30-29 age bracket. Older users were less likely to pay – 13% of those paying, for example, were over 65.

But 61% of current non-payers have no intention of starting to pay. Two thirds felt there was sufficient free journalistic content available, while 44% believed the quality of content on offer did not justify payment and 34% said the price being asked was too much. One third (32%) also said online payments were too complicated.

According to the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers the most widespread model being used by newspapers is the 'freemium' model, where the editors decide on which content is chargeable and which not. Also popular are the metered model, where a certain number of articles are offered free before a paywall is raised, and the subscription model, where content is only available after an advance payment.

Data sourced from BITKOM; additional content by Warc staff