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Consumers in the US spend an average of $10 on digital content per month: study

A new study suggests that almost two thirds (65%) of internet users in the US have paid a subscription fee or have made a one off payment to access or download digital content from the internet.

The typical online consumer spends around $10 a month for digital content said internet research firm Pew in a study released on December 30.

The majority of users prefer to pay for subscription services (23%) as opposed to downloading individual files (16%) or streaming content (%8).  

Music, software and applications are the most popular purchases, although games, e-books and news articles also feature among the "intangible" digital products consumers are happy to spend their hard-earned money on.

33 percent of users said they had paid to download or access music online and a further 33 percent said they purchased software.

Figures for newspaper, magazine and/or journal articles or reports were much lower, with just 18 percent of consumers saying they have ever paid to access or download that type of digital content.

Only two percent of online Americans admitted to paying for adult content.

Other categories of online content consumers had paid for included digital games (19%); videos, movies or TV shows (16%); ringtones (15%); digital photos (12%); members-only premium content from a website that has other free material on it (11%); e-books (10%); podcasts (7%); tools or materials to use in video or computer games (5%); "cheats or codes" to help them in video games (5%); and access particular websites such as online dating sites or services (5%).

"Of those internet users who have purchased online content, nearly half (46%) have purchased only one or two of the types of content covered in our survey," said Pew. "Some 16% have purchased six or more types of content."

Pew's figures paint a positive picture of the state of paid content on the web, however, the study does not provide an entirely clear image of the online marketplace.

The definition of online content is slightly blurred in the study.

ReveNews writes that people who paid for (physical) newspapers or movie rental subscriptions were told to tick "yes" in questions that asked if they had paid for online content if their subscription included some form of online content (even if they didn't use the included online content).

"That makes it difficult to hone in on what people are willing to pay for-the actual content or the way content is delivered. There's also no sense of what they aren't willing to pay for. It's a low-res snapshot of online consumer buying behavior," says PaidContent.org.