Readers prefer subscriptions over micropayments

LONDON - Consumers have said that if they had to pay for their favourite news website they would prefer a one-off subscription over micropayments, according to a survey by Paidcontent.

Paidcontent surveyed online consumers who visited news sites at least once a month. They were asked if they would prefer micropayments, 24-hour day passes or buy subscriptions for up to a year.

The survey found the most popular form of payment of those surveyed was the subscription payment, which was favoured by 54%.

The findings are likely to surprise many in the industry who have trumpeted micropayments as the option most likely succeed.

The popularity has stemmed from the success of Apple's iTunes, which has convinced many that it is a possible model of how some online content could be paid for in the near future.

The popularity of micropayments has emerged despite the only successful and prominent payment models currently in existence being the subscriptions offered by the Financial Times for FT.com and the Wall Street Journal for WSJ.com.

The findings on consumer preference for subscriptions follows another part of the research that yesterday revealed three quarters of people would simply switch to an alternative free news source if their favourite website began charging.

Furthermore Paidcontent's research, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that only 5% of those readers would choose to pay to continue reading the site. 8% would continue reading the site's free headlines and 12% were undecided.