Music Lovers

Online consumers would rather buy music than find mates. That’s the trend behind the numbers in a report made public by the Online Publishers Association, which recently surveyed online content purchasing behavior in the first half of 2005.

Thanks to Rafat Ali’s newsletter for pointing to the report, and comScore Networks which performed the survey. The OPA released both a summary and the full report. As noted in the appendix, the survey excludes porn, gambling, proprietary online games ( MMOGs) and software purchases.

With these notable exclusions, the report breaks down the paid content universe in 11 buckets and notes that in the first half of 2005, total spending grew 15.7 percent to $986.8 million. But 68 cents of every dollar dropped into just three buckets: Entertainment & Lifestyles, Personals & Dating, Business Content & Investment. The other eight content categories fought for the pennies.

Page seven of the full report (a PDF) shows the 11 spending categories at a glance. Powered by music downloads, Entertainment blew past Personals, which used to be the Big Kahuna of Content. But nowadays it appears that online consumer want to listen, not love.

One additional fact should drive home the utter dominance of music downloads in the paid content scheme of things. Total spending for all 11 content categories grew $133 million in the first half of 2005. Entertainment spending rose $82 million during the period. In other words, Entertainment accounted for 61 cents of every dollar of total growth. The OPA report put it thus: :Growth in the Entertainment/Lifestyle category, driven by online music sales, has rippled through most every aspect of this report.”

One more note to send newshounds like me howling mournfully at the moon. Spending for General News — a pittance in the content pot to begin with — actually fell. I am too depressed to calculate the percentage drop.

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media