Online content spend in the US nears $1 billion

MUMBAI: This is good news for those wondering about the health of paid content on the net. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) in the US has released its Paid Content U.S. Market Spending Report covering Q1 and Q2 of 2005.

The study, conducted by comScore Networks, determined that consumer spending for online content in the US grew to $987 million in the first half of 2005, an increase of 15.7 per cent over the same period last year. For the first time ever, in Q2 of 2005, quarterly sales of content topped half a billion dollars.

Spurred by growth in online music sales, the entertainment/lifestyles category overtook personals/dating to become the leading paid content category. Consumers spent $264.8 million on the category in the first half of the year. Personals/Dating grew to $245.2 million in the first half of 2005, while business/investment content remained in third place with spending at $159.1 million.

The entertainment/lifestyles category was by far the fastest-growing paid content category in the first half of 2005, up 44.8 percent over the same period last year. However, after registering steady declines during the first half of last year, the research category also surged back with a 33.8 per cent year-over-year increase, the second-largest percentage gain among all categories. The games and personal growth segments were also up significantly, by 22.5 per cent and 19.4 per cent, respectively.

OPA president Michael Zimbalist says, "Consumers are turning to the Web for entertainment more and more, and as they do sales of content continue to rise. We suspect this trend will continue as new products such as the Video iPod and other mobile devices play greater roles in digital content distribution."

Single purchase sales, as opposed to subscriptions, continued to rise. In the first half of 2005, single purchases accounted for 20.1 perc ent of total online content sales, up from 15.4 per cent in 2004. Single-purchase sales in the entertainment/lifestyles category, alone, accounted for $114.9 million in revenue in the first half of 2005.

Out of a total US online population of 171.0 million in the second quarter of 2005, 19.4 million paid for online content, up 15.6 per cent from the 16.8 million who paid for content online in Q2 2004. The 15.6 per cent growth in paid-content consumers in Q2 2005 over Q2 2004 is substantially greater than the growth of the US Internet population during the same time period (11.9 per cent).

Founded in June 2001, the Online Publishers Association (OPA) is an industry trade organisation whose mission is to advance the interests of high-quality online publishers before the advertising community, the press, the government and the public. Members of OPA represent the standards in Internet publishing with respect to editorial quality and integrity, credibility and accountability

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