More people are now willing to pay for online news or expecting to pay for it in future, a large-scale Oxford University report has found.
Over the last 10 months, there has been a significant shift in public attitudes towards online news, the survey of 11,000 internet users across nine countries has found.
The online polls commissioned by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) were conducted in the UK, US, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, urban Brazil and Japan.
The report identified 25-34 year olds as the age group most willing to pay for online news across all nine countries surveyed.
This age-group represents one quarter of those with an annual income of 25,000 to 50,000 pounds. The report suggests that this relative affluence may be one reason why they have embraced digital news and are willing to pay for it.
Of those who are not currently paying, across all the countries more than one in 10 (14 per cent), on average, said they were very likely or somewhat likely to pay for digital news in the future. This compares with just 5 per cent of those surveyed in the UK. By contrast, in Brazil the figure was a striking 58 per cent.
Of the 2,000 internet users surveyed in the UK, 9 per cent had paid for online news compared with only 4 per cent last year.
Of those in the UK who had not already paid for online news, nearly one quarter (23 per cent) said the main reason for paying for the service in future was if news outlets started to charge rather than provide free news sites.
“We’re starting to see significant shifts in public attitudes to online news, with more people starting to pay for digital news or seeming to accept that in future they will probably have to pay for a service that they currently get for free,” study author Nic Newman, a research associate at the RISJ and digital strategist, said.
In countries such as the UK and Denmark traditional news brands dominate, capturing 80 per cent or more of the online audience, whereas in Japan and the US online-only news sites and aggregators are used far more by consumers, the study found.
The survey also revealed that for many, the mobile phone is the main way of accessing news when they are on the move.
In Denmark, people using public transport are twice as likely to get news on their mobile phone (63 per cent) than read a printed newspaper (33 per cent).
In the UK, on public transport almost half (48 per cent) of those surveyed said they used their mobile phones for news, with one third (34 per cent) preferring to read newspapers and 6 per cent using tablets.