Getting Consumers to Pay for Online Radio

Will consumers pay for online content they get now for free? That’s a question that Nielsen recently asked 27,000 consumers in 52 countries – and the answer was a resounding “maybe”. After 85% declared that they prefer getting their content for free, survey participants went on to indicate which content they would – or already have – paid for.

In fact, about a third of those surveyed indicated that they have or would be willing to pay for radio (music), and about a quarter for radio (news).  27 or 28% indicated they would or have already paid for podcasts.

Caveats are that they don’t want to see ads if they’re paying for the content, and they expect the content to be “better” than what they were getting for free. Men were more tolerant than women of the idea of advertising, and residents of North American countries were least tolerant globally of the idea of advertising within paid content.

It’s an interesting study in the ongoing debate of best ways to monetize online content. Applied specifically, this information would encourage online stations to create unique channels of audio content that they can charge for, and cultivate customers for that content from within their larger audience base.

Some online stations have been doing this – for $36 a year you can listen to Pandora’s Pandora One, which gives listeners a special desktop app, ad free listening, higher quality audio, and other special features. Digitally Imported offers a similar premium package for $5.95 a month, and Radioio offers an “audiophile subscription” that includes their 52 basic channels plus 20 channels only available to subscribers, along with ad free and better quality streaming.

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