Most Americans, Brits Won't Pay For Online News

Dennis Faas's picture

The percentage of people willing to pay for online news appears to be on the rise. However, an international study suggests the vast majority of people are still unwilling to pay for the news they find on the Internet.

Reuters has published a study based on research in nine countries. The study examines the way people consume news on the Internet, both via laptop and desktop computers and through portable devices, like smartphones. (Source:

Researchers found the percentage of people who had paid for an online news service, such as a digital newspaper subscription, varied widely. In the United Kingdom the figure was 9 per cent, while in Brazil (where the study only covered urban areas) it was 24 per cent.

Just 12 per cent of Americans were willing to pay for their online news. (Source:

Long-Term Net Users Expect Free News

According to Reuters, there's a clear pattern here: in countries where Internet access has become widespread only recently, people are much more likely to pay for news sites.

However, in countries where people have been using the Internet for many years, such as the US and UK, there's less willingness to spend money to access news.

Across all countries it's 25-34 year olds who are most likely to pay for news. That may be because people in this age bracket have a greater amount of disposable income or because they're more likely to access news sites via portable devices like tablets and smartphones.

The research found people who use these portable devices are much more likely to pay for news services than people who only use a laptop or desktop computer.

Western Nations Happier With Subscription Models

Another notable pattern: in most countries, people buying Internet news were more likely to do so with a one-off payment rather than a subscription.

In the US, UK, and Denmark, however, buyers were more likely to access news with a subscription.

These trends are unlikely to change in the near future. In urban parts of Brazil, 60 per cent of people who don't currently pay for news online say they expect to do so at some point.

Meanwhile, just 9 per cent of respondents in the US and five per cent of respondents in the UK say they plan to pay for their Internet news.

The researchers also found that news magazines which offer analysis and informed commentary are much more likely to attract paid readers than newspapers offering straight news reporting.

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