Intermarket Tracks Characteristics of Paid Content Services

Feb 28, 2003

Intermarket Group's Content Matrix tracking service has recently looked at paid content services in an effort to track characteristics of the services. An analysis of more than 340 subscription properties/services covered by Intermarket revealed several characteristics among current paid content offerings. Intermarket reports:

--Eighty-one percent of the properties/services tracked continue to offer at least some free content on their Web sites and 61% publish one or more free email newsletters.  Few publishers are placing all of their content behind the subscription barrier.

--Business-oriented properties/services are the most expensive with a median subscription price of $22.45 per month, followed by financial news/information and health-related information. Content categories with the lowest pricing include entertainment ($6.95 per month median price), sports ($5.95), and weather ($4.95).

--Less than one-half (35%) of the properties/services tracked offer free trial subscriptions. Publishers targeting mixed audiences (both consumers and business users) are the most likely to offer free trials while B-to-C publishers are least likely.  Among those properties/services that do offer free trials, the most common length is two weeks.

--One-third (32%) of the properties/services tracked supplement their subscription revenues with single-purchase digital/downloadable content sales, 49% syndicate or license some portion of their digital content, 43% sell related merchandise on their Web sites and 72% include advertising in at least some areas of their Web sites.

--The number of publishers who offer subscription content for wireless devices is increasing, but less than one-in-five support them at present. Fifteen percent of the B-to-B properties/services tracked currently offer content specifically for PDAs or other wireless devices and only 9% of consumer-oriented properties/services offer similarly formatted content.

The Content Matrix tracks more than 340 subscription-based online content properties/services from almost 160 B-to-C and B-to-B publishers, including, Premiere Radio Networks, RealNetworks,, WeightWatchers, and Yahoo!. The Matrix is delivered in a Microsoft Excel format enabling users to analyze trends in pricing, free trials, free content, and user registration requirements. Information is also provided on subscription deliverables, including video and audio content; delivery of content by Web, email and for wireless devices; availability of archives; frequency of publication or updating; and sources of revenue.  A companion presentation provides 30+ pages of charts summarizing top-level data from the Matrix itself.