Paying for digital news

Whilst 50% of our global sample said they had bought a printed newspaper in the last week, only 5% said they had paid for digital news in the same time period. This is partly because the majority of online newspapers still do not charge for news – although that is changing rapidly with the erection of paywalls, combined subscriptions, and app-based purchases. In the UK, we have seen a significant jump in the percentage paying for news since our last survey – from 4% to 9% paying for some kind of digital news in the last year.

There are marked differences with countries where populations were late adopters of online services or in which the legacy of free online news provision is less pronounced. The highest rates of paying for digital news are thus seen in Brazil, Italy, Spain, Japan, and France.

Number paying for digital news in last year

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid-for digital news service?

Base: All markets UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Spain (n=979) Japan (n=978) Italy (n=965) Germany (n=1062) France (n=973) Denmark (n=1007) Urban Brazil (n=985)

In terms of who is prepared to pay for digital news, older groups are most reluctant to pay for digital news, with 25–34 year olds the most willing to do so across all of our countries. We also see an income effect (illustrated in France and Germany), with those households earning over €50K p.a. around twice as likely to pay as those earning less than €30K a year.

Watch a range of views on paying for digital news

In the UK, among those with a personal income of £25K to £50K, a quarter are 25 to 34, suggesting that this age group is more affluent and therefore willing to pay for digital content.

Who is paying for digital news?: Age breakdown

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid for digital news service?

Base: UK 18 to 24 (n=269) 25 to 34: (n=286) 35 to 44: (n=321) 45 to 54 (n=383) 55+ (n=819) 0 to €30k France, Germany(n=487,364) €25 to €50k (n=287,230) €50k+(n=100,226)

Chart shows % yes

Who is paying for digital news?: Household income

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid for digital news service?

Base: UK 18 to 24 (n=269) 25 to 34: (n=286) 35 to 44: (n=321) 45 to 54 (n=383) 55+ (n=819) 0 to €30k France, Germany(n=487,364) €25 to €50k (n=287,230) €50k+(n=100,226)

Chart shows % yes

Two other important factors relate to interest in news and device ownership. Our News Lover segment is twice as likely to pay as either Daily Briefers or Casual Users. Tablet owners are twice as likely to pay as computer users, but much of this difference is likely to relate to higher personal and household income of this group and their greater interest in news.

Paid for digital content by interest segment

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid for digital news service?

Base: All Countries (n=11004) News Lovers (n=2565) Daily Briefers: (n=5968) Casual Users: (n=2471) Tablet users (n=1639) Smartphone users (n=3156) Computer users (n=7444) Chart shows % yes in last year

Paid for digital content by device

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid for digital news service?

Base: All Countries (n=11004) News Lovers (n=2565) Daily Briefers: (n=5968) Casual Users: (n=2471) Tablet users (n=1639) Smartphone users (n=3156) Computer users (n=7444) Chart shows % yes in last year

Types of digital payment

Notable differences in patterns of payment are evident across nations, with distinct differences appearing between nations where one-day or single-article, or single-app purchase is predominant (Spain, Italy, France) and those where subscriptions to digital news are more common (US, Denmark).

Types of digital payment by country

Q7a: You said you have accessed paid for digital news content in the last year, which, if any, of the following types of payment have you used?

Base: All markets UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Spain (n=979) Japan (n=978) Italy (n=965) Germany (n=1062) France (n=973) Denmark (n=1007) Urban Brazil (n=985)

The most popular type of one-off payment in all countries is for downloading and using an app or making an in-app purchase. In France, Spain, and Italy, around one-third of those who said they paid for news made an app purchase in the last year. The figures were slightly lower in the US, UK, and Denmark, perhaps because a number of news publishers have moved to making apps an ongoing subscription payment or part of a print/subscription bundle.

Looking specifically at those who use both tablets and smartphones in the United States, we can see this group is four times more likely to pay than the average American in our sample. They are also twice as likely to pay as News Lovers.

Paying for news by device and by interest – the US

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid for digital news service?

Base: (US=2028) Tablet and Smartphone users US (n=187) News Lovers US (n=557), iPhone (n=277) Other smartphone (n=337), iPad (n=206), Other tablet (n=149)

Platform matters

Apple logoPeople with Apple devices are more likely to pay than those using other Operating Systems.

  iPad Other tablet iPhone Other phone
Last week 14% 11% 10% 10%
Ever 29% 22% 23% 20%

Most of this relates to ongoing subscription not one-off app purchase.

  iPad Other tablet iPhone Other phone
Single app 20% 44% 18% 29%
Subscr 37% 37% 41% 29%

Testing for the impact of device on willingness to pay

These differences could be explained by device functionality and the eco-system of paid news that has grown up around these devices or they could relate the fact that smartphone and tablet owners tend to come from higher incomes and have a higher interest in news. To explore this further, we identified a number of demographic characteristics such as gender, age, education and income that may play a role in influencing a person’s likelihood to pay for news. By taking these variables into account, along with the interest in the news, we can include them in a regression model and ‘control’ for their relationship with device usage and paying for news. The chart below summarises the results which show that in the United States, these devices are significantly encouraging payment for news when controlling for these factors. It also suggests that users of Apple devices are more likely to pay than those who use other smartphones and tablets. Users of iPads are 147% more likely to pay for news and iPhone users are 77% more likely to pay.

Impact of device after controlling for demographic and usage factors US

  iPad Other tablet iPhone Other phone
Paid in last year +147% +75% +77% +54%

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid for digital news service?

Base: (US=2028)

% difference compared with general digital users after controlling for gender, age, education level, income and interest in news

In the United Kingdom, we do not see quite such a pronounced effect. Smartphone and tablet users are only a little more likely to pay for news than online news users. And when running our model, controlling for demographic variables, we do not find any statistically significant positive correlation with device. This may relate to the lower levels of payment in the UK generally and to the fact that some of the most popular news apps (BBC, Sky and Metro) are provided free.

Paying for news by device and by interest – the UK

Q7: Have you paid for DIGITAL news content, or accessed a paid for digital news service?

Base: (UK=2078) Tablet and Smartphone users (n=143) News Lovers (n=448)

For those who aren’t currently paying for digital news, a significant percentage expects to pay at some point in the future. Urban Brazil has the highest willingness to pay in the future but consumers in Italy and Spain show more willingness than Northern European countries. News Lovers (around 20% of the sample in most countries) are much more likely to pay. Men say they are much more likely pay than women.

Likelihood to pay for digital news in the future by country

Q7b: You said you have not paid for digital content in the last year, how likely or unlikely would you be to pay IN THE FUTURE for online news from particular sources that you like?

Base: All markets UK (n=2078) US (n=2028) Spain (n=979) Japan (n=978) Italy (n=965) Germany (n=1062) France (n=973) Denmark (n=1007) Urban Brazil (n=985)

Chart shows net very likely or somewhat likely