Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How To Sell an iTunes Subscription: Charge a Few Bucks a Month, Or Nothing

Article of faith for content companies: If they take stuff that’s free on the Web and put it on a mobile gadget, they can get consumers to pay for it.

Sort of true, says Nielsen.

Nielsen’s latest survey of “connected device” owners–basically, people who own smartphones and iPads–shows that they’re willing to shell out money for movies, music, magazines, etc. Sometimes. If the price is right.

Essentially, Nielsen finds the price point sweet spot is $9.99 a month or less for monthly subscription services. Except when it’s not: For news, streaming radio and sports services, most people say they won’t pay anything at all.

Here’s the question Nielsen asked device owners: “For each of the media content types that you could potentially access through your connected devices, please indicate how much you would be willing to pay for a monthly subscription to access it.”

And here are the results (click the image to enlarge):

Caveats: Again, this is what people say they’re willing to pay, not what they’re actually paying for–it’s poll data, not sales data.

And because it’s about subscription services, much of this is theoretical, anyway–most of the content people are getting on their phones and tablets comes via free apps, or those paid for with a one-time purchase.

But we should be getting real world data we can match up against this survey data soon: Apple has started to roll out its subscription services via iTunes (next month is a crucial deadline for content owners who want to distribute subscription services on iOS) and Google’s Android is headed that way, too.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald