Study: Most won't pay for newspaper, magazine content online

Eighty percent of U.S. consumers would rather skip a news article online if it's not free, according to Forrester

Bad news for newspaper and magazine publishers hoping to boost their flagging businesses by charging for content: Most consumers in the U.S. won't pay for it.

That's the finding from a new study from Forrester Research, which polled around 4,700 U.S. consumers, 80 percent of whom indicated they're unwilling to pay for access to newspaper and magazine articles and other content.

Since the once red-hot online advertising market has cooled off considerably in the past 12 months, publishers are seriously considering charging for content as another alternative. That, however, will be a tough sell.

And catering to the remaining 20 percent of respondents who are willing to pay for content won't be a slam dunk either. These group is splintered in its preferences for payment methods.

Eight percent would like a subscription fee for accessing all online content; another 8 percent would like a subscription for access to content on the Web, in print and via mobile devices.

The other 3 percent lean toward micropayments, shelling out dough for individual articles.

The findings indicate that publishers have to continue offering free content monetized through advertising, while also setting a price on premium content that consumers can pay for via a variety of methods, according to the study's lead author Sarah Rotman Epps.

"There's no one delivery platform, and no one pricing model, that will satisfy all consumers. Consumer willingness to pay is so modest -- and, in general, we find it tends to over-report in surveys -- that publishers need to be extremely flexible to accommodate the needs of these precious customers," she wrote in a blog posting.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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