A recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project has revealed that  65% of internet users have paid to access or download some kind of digital content – music and software being the most common kinds of content purchased.

The company surveyed 755 internet users who were asked about 15 different kinds of online material that could be purchased or access after a payment. As explained in the report;

“The online content that we were trying to assess in this survey is “intangible” digital products such as software, articles, and music that need not have a physical form. This is in contrast to something we have measured in previous surveys but were not trying to capture here: the use of the internet to purchase “tangible” products such as clothes, CDs, books, or computers or tangible services such as hotel reservations or airline tickets”.

In the survey, internet users were asked; “Please tell me if you have ever paid to access or to download any of the following types of online content?” and received the following results;

  • 33% of internet users have paid for digital music online
  • 33% have paid for software
  • 21% have paid for apps for their cell phones or tablet computers
  • 19% have paid for digital games
  • 18% have paid for digital newspaper, magazine, or journal articles or reports
  • 16% have paid for videos, movies, or TV shows
  • 15% have paid for ringtones
  • 12% have paid for digital photos
  • 11% have paid for members-only premium content from a website that has other free material on it
  • 10% have paid for e-books
  • 7% have paid for podcasts
  • 5% have paid for tools or materials to use in video or computer games
  • 5% have paid for “cheats or codes” to help them in video games
  • 5% have paid to access particular websites such as online dating sites or services
  • 2% have paid for adult content
  • 6% of internet users said they had paid for another kind of content that had not been mentioned in the list


The report continues to reveal some more interesting insights, including the most common methods of payment for digital content and the average monthly spend of a user purchasing digital content.

To download or view the report in full, please visit http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Paying-for-Content/Overview.aspx.