Paying For Anything On The Internet? No One Is Really Buying -- Or Selling It -- Too Well Yet

If the way Europeans treat paid digital content is any harbinger of where this model is going, U.S. TV executives may need to rethink their plans.

According to Forrester Research, when European consumers were asked what Internet stuff they paid for in 2010, just 4% said video content. This is down from 6% in 2009. When it come to premium TV shows, the numbers are worse -- with just 3% paying for this content in 2010, down from 5% in 2009.

But future prospects appear better. When asked in 2009 what digital content they would pay for in the future, 18% said digital video -- a percentage that dropped to17% in 2010. The percentage of consumers who said they'd pay for TV show In the future remained the same for both years:14%

Forrester believes demand is there -- but TV operators are reluctant to move. This doesn't bode well for TV in the U.S. Those hungry traditional media/entertainment company executives -- Chase Carey of News Corp; Jeff Bewkes of Time Warner; and Bob Iger of Walt Disney -- are pushing for TV Everywhere efforts -- that, in effect, means, have consumers pay for content for those not already paying for it through certified video retailers.

Though Forrester notes an uptick in consumers looking to pay for video content, it isn't overwhelming to me. Consumers in Europe -- or in the U.S. -- might not be moved towards paid content because, at the moment, content isn't restricted. There are many places to get it "free" or advertising supported content . If there were seemingly fewer places to get your "American Idol", "CSI," "The Office," or "Modern Family" fix, consumers would then have less choice. Then you have a different story.

Right now, however, TV Everywhere is a misnomer. It isn't about giving consumers the ability to see it "everywhere.".To me, it's limiting the places they can get it. That's what executives behind had envisioned. But this was for a free, advertising-supported platform.

Now all that has changed -- U.S. television executives believe paying is the way to go. They'd better make sure.

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