Survey: Nearly two-thirds of U.S. Internet users have bought content

A new survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that some 65 percent of U.S. Internet users have opened up their wallets and paid for online content, whether that be music, videos, software, games, or other items. However, although there are some big spender who skew the numbers a bit, most online content buyers spend on the order of $10 per month—the equivalent of just a few cups of coffee. However, that so many users are willing to spend money at all is probably good news for digital goods providers in the long term.

survey nearly two thirds of u s internet users have bought content pew  online purchase amounts dec 2010

“What was really surprising was that the percentage of Internet users purchasing online content is nearly the same as those purchasing other products and services, such as books and travel,” said the report’s author Jim Jansen, in a statement. “Additionally, the range of online content that Internet users purchase is quite varied.”

The most common digital content purchases among respondents were digital music and software, with fully one third reporting that they have paid for each online. Some 21 percent reported that they had paid for apps for mobile phones or tablet devices, while 19 percent said they had paid for games. Another 18 percent reported paying for digital periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and journals), while 16 percent said they had paid for digital video (movies, TV shows, and videos).

The survey found that men and women purchase digital content at about the same rates, although men were more likely to pay for software. Income was also correlated to online spending: the higher a respondent’s income, the more like they were to pay for some form of online content. The most popular forms of paid content were subscription services (used by 23 percent) rather than paying to download individual files (16 percent) or tap into live streams (8 percent).

The average amount spend among those who paid for online content was about $47 per month, including both subscriptions and inividual file downloads. However, that average was distorted by “some extremely high-end users;” most users’ online content spending amounted to about $10 a month.

What else do people buy online? Some 15 percent of respondents said they had paid for ringtones, 12 percent said they’d purchased digital photos, 11 percent said they had subscribed to members-only Web site content, 10 percent said they had purchased ebooks, and 7 percent said they paid for podcasts. Curiously, 2 percent admitted to paying for adult content, 5 percent said they paid to access online dating services, and 5 percent said they’d purchased cheat codes or other materials (guides or tools) to get through video games.

They survey was conducted by phone from October 28 to November 1, and contacted 1,003 people; of those contacted, 755 were Internet users; Pew reports the margin of error for the Internet-using portion of respondents is ±3.9 percent.

Home Theater

PlayStation Vue: The master guide to Sony’s internet TV service

PlayStation Vue is Sony's answer to live TV without the need for a cable or satellite TV subscription. To help you understand the service, its plans, and numerous features, we've created this handy guide.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Movies & TV

Can't get enough lightsaber action? Here's how to get your Star Wars fix online

Few of us want to deal with DVDs or Blu-ray discs anymore. Unfortunately, the Star Wars movies are few and far between when it comes to streaming. If you want to watch Star Wars online, check out our guide on where to find the films online.
Movies & TV

Hulu with Live TV expands its channel lineup in new deal with Discovery

Not sure which Hulu subscription is right for you? We're here to help. This is your complete guide to Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, including content offerings for each service, pricing, internet requirements, and more.
Emerging Tech

Neural networks? Machine learning? Here's your secret decoder for A.I. buzzwords

Don't know your machine learning from your evolutionary algorithms? Worried every time you sit on a bus in case Google's Larry Page sits down next to you with a pop quiz? Our handy A.I. buzzword guide is here to help.

Need to convert video in a flash? These free apps and services will do the job

Devices that are capable of playing video can be a picky bunch to say the least. Fortunately, the best free video converters can render format issues a thing of the past. Here are our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Self-balancing skates, tiny tripods, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Release of Nvidia's RTX 2080 Ti GPUs will be delayed by a week

Nvidia's new RTX 2000 series graphics cards are impressive pieces of hardware, with some amazing advancements and some rather high price tags to match. Here's everything you need to know about Nvidia's new top-tier cards.

Don't buy a new router, fix your Wi-Fi with these quick tips

Don't panic when your Wi-Fi goes down. Instead, fix it. These simple solutions to the most common Wi-Fi Problems will get you back online at high speed in no time (hopefully) without buying a new router.

Our favorite gaming desktops make the latest consoles look pathetic

PC gaming doesn't always come cheap, but it doesn't have to be extortionate either. In this guide we've put together a list of the best gaming PCs you can buy, with everything from the big and flashy, to the super compact.

These 15-inch laptops are both powerhouses, but which should you buy?

The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580 offers an innovative twist on the tried-and-true touchpad: the LCD-equipped ScreenPad. That's not all that Asus has up its sleeve, but is it all enough to compete?

This orange puck keeps you online in any country, with one hidden catch

Staying connected on your travels can be a challenge and sometimes results in hefty cell phone bills you could do without. We tried out the Skyroam Solis, a global Wi-Fi hotspot and power bank billed as the perfect solution.

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation. Updated meta…

Microsoft may go back to black with 2018 Surface Pro and Surface Laptop

Microsoft may be adding black as a color option to its refreshed Surface Laptop and Surface Pro models on October 2nd. Rumors of the new color along with an image of the black Surface Laptop popped up over the weekend.