Nielsen: U.S. Consumers The Most Likely To Pay For Content On A Tablet… Except When It’s News

As developers hunker down and get into the business of trying to work out how to get consumers to buy more of their product on mobile devices, some revealing numbers out from Nielsen on what people are willing to pay for on tablets already.

The upshot: paid content, it seems, is alive and well, but some media categories are doing a lot better than others.

Taking just the use of paid content on tablets in Q4 2011, Nielsen found that in the U.S., a majority of tablet owners have already paid for downloaded music, books and movies, with 62 percent, 58 percent and 51 percent respectively saying they have already made such purchases. The one area that really fell down in the U.S. was news, where only 19 percent said they had ever paid to read news on their tablets.

Given how popular news is as a general category for consuming on tablets, why the big difference? It’s likely because there are many more ways of getting news content for free via apps and the web, while those other, higher ranking categories are viewed as chargeable, “premium” content — both by the industry and by users.

What’s interesting is that when Nielsen asked the U.S. participants of its survey about what they would be willing to pay for on their tablet, those high percentages went down. Only 46 percent said they would pay for music; books became 45 percent and movies 38 percent: this suggests that although people have been willing to give things a try, they’re not necessarily going to come back for more.

In contrast, those categories that scored lower for paid content to date actually went up when people were asked if they would ever consider paying for that content in future. (See table below.)

Nielsen also incorporated some stats on how paid content is doing in some European markets, specifically Italy, Germany and the U.K.

News, ironically, is doing a lot better in Europe than it is in the New World. A whopping 44 percent of Italians surveyed said they had paid for news content on their tablets. That probably points to fewer instances of “free” apps and more of a drive to premium subscriptions in that market.

Italy, in fact, seems to have paid content-friendly consumers in general. The country also outscored Germany and the U.K. in every other category, from music and books, to streaming radio, magazines and sports.

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