Nearly two-thirds of US Internet users have paid to download or access online content such as music, movies or news articles, a survey showed Thursday.
The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found 65 percent of those surveyed said they paid to access or download some content.
The survey offers some hope for the Internet as an economic cash generator despite the widespread perception that people only seek free content online.
"The Internet has become a viable distribution channel for a variety of online content, especially in the era of broadband," the report said.
"The issue of people's willingness to pay for online material has enormous implications for media companies, artistic creators, and others who are hoping to sustain themselves - or grow new businesses - by raising revenues through online purchases."
In the survey, 33 percent of Internet users have paid for digital music online or software; 21 percent for apps for cell phones or tablet computers; 19 percent for digital games; 18 percent for digital newspaper, magazine, or journal articles; 16 percent for videos, movies, or TV shows: and 15 percent for ringtones.
"What was really surprising was that the percentage of Internet users purchasing online content is nearly the same as those purchasing other products and services, such as books and travel," noted Jim Jansen, the author of the Pew Internet report.
"Additionally, the range of online content that internet users purchase is quite varied."
The survey included telephone interviews with 1,003 adults living in the continental United States, of whom 755 are Internet users.
The survey found a correlation between income levels and paying for online content, with the users in higher-income bracket households more likely to pay for various kinds of content than those from lower-income brackets.