Only 1/4th of Indians pay for news, but 2/3rd willing to pay: WEF study
With the coronavirus pandemic emphasising the media's indispensable role in society, a new study showed on Thursday that just about one-fourth of the consumers in India currently pay for news but nearly two-thirds are willing to pay.
The survey of news and entertainment consumers conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in six key markets -- China, Germany, India, South Korea, the UK and the US -- also found that the willingness among Indians to pay for entertainment media services in future is even higher at 87 per cent.
Overall in these six markets, the study found that a majority spend 24 hours per week consuming news and entertainment, but less than half pay for it.
Across these countries, young people (16-34 years) are more likely to pay for content, but low-income groups are less likely to pay for news services, suggesting that the rise of paid-for media may lead to information inequalities.
China and India emerged as bright spots with big appetites for news and entertainment, said the Geneva-based WEF, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private cooperation.
The WEF said the current coronavirus challenge only emphasizes the indispensable role that the media plays in society today.
"With the value of content growing, the industry needs financial models that facilitate social functions while still supporting widespread access to critical content," it said.
Less than half of consumers in these six key markets pay for media, with 16 per cent paying for news and 44 per cent paying for entertainment -- but the willingness to pay is rising, the research showed.
It said 80-90 per cent consumers spend 24 hours reading, watching or listening to news and entertainment per week.
Almost 60 per cent of consumers have registered for a media service (free or paid) and have on average seven media services covering video, sport, gaming, music, podcasts, news and blogs.
The research is based on a survey conducted for the WEF by Nielsen between early October and late November 2019, which asked more than 9,100 people in China, Germany, India, South Korea, the UK and the US about their media consumption and payment habits and preferences.
In addition, between May 2019 and January 2020 the WEF consulted around 100 executives from advertising, entertainment, news and other parts of the media industry about business strategies to attract and retain consumers -- along with the implications these could have for society.
Globally, those willing to pay in the future is 53 per cent for news and 70 per cent for entertainment.
Furthermore, two of the most dynamic global economies -- China and India -- show reasons for optimism.
In China, 25 per cent pay for news and 59 per cent have at least one paid video or sport service, numbers that may be explained by the greater prevalence of pay-per-use models in the country.
In India, consumers report a significant willingness to grow the number of news and entertainment services they pay for.
Indian respondents said they are willing to pay for closer to three entertainment services and four news services, more than the maximum of between one and two services that most other countries report a willingness to pay for.
As per the study, 87 per cent in India are willing to pay for entertainment and 67 per cent for news, up from about a quarter for each today.