Why Won't Tablet Users Pay for News Content?
Do you have a tablet? If so, you are part of a small, but growing population. A new survey from the Pew Research Center claims that 11 percent of adults now own a tablet of some sort, and reveals some interesting facts and trends related to tablet usage.
The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism conducted the survey of nearly 1,200 tablet users in collaboration with The Economist Group. The focus of the survey revolves around news: how tablet users consume news, whether they're willing to pay for news, and what the implications are for revenue potential and the future of journalism.
According to the survey, almost eight in ten tablet owners use their tablets daily--an average of 90 minutes. What they do during those 90 minutes varies. Email is the number one tablet-based task, and social networking, games, reading books, and watching movies all made the list as well. Right at the top, though--just behind email--53 percent of survey respondents report consuming news on their tablet daily.
Eight in ten respondents say that they now get news from their tablet that they used to consume on traditional laptop and desktop PCs. A majority also report using the tablet to replace news previously acquired from print (59 percent) and television (57 percent) sources.
Two-thirds of tablet users have a news app of some sort, but the leading method of getting news is still the Web browser. Forty percent rely mainly on the browser for accessing news, and 31 percent report using the browser and apps roughly equally, while only 21 percent say they get their news primarily from apps.
The CNN iPad app is a great source because you can set it up to notify you when breaking news occurs. When things are going on in the world--like Libyan dictators getting killed, or earthquakes leveling parts of Turkey--my first indication is generally the alert tone on my iPad 2.
One of the problems facing news publications in the tablet era is how to make money. Journalists expect to get paid, so there has to be a way to monetize the information and generate revenue. Only 14 percent of tablet owners pay for news content, though. The survey finds that a majority are reluctant to spend money to get news even if it is from one of their favorite news sources.
Respected sources like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have implemented a paywall system. Basically, you are allowed to read some limited amount of news for free, but once you hit your quota you have to subscribe and pay in order to access the full content.
Many print media sources are struggling with the transition from print to digital. Resources like Time magazine provide free access to online information for paid subscribers who receive the print publication, and don't offer a digital-only alternative.