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03 March 2010

Aussies won't pay for online news; More willing to pay for online games and movies, by Greg Tingle - 3rd March 2010

Nearly two thirds of Australians would not consider paying for online newspapers, however one in two people would pay for online movies, according to research from Nielsen.

Media Man's in-house research via their network of 20 plus websites across a dozen industry verticals, has found that many web surfers are prepared to pay for online games, if value for money is perceived. Website visitors usually first choose the "play for free" option, then roughly half later move onto "play for money" games.

Blockbuster movies themed games, the type put out by Party's 'The Games Studio', generally blitz the competition, something that Richard Branson's Virgin Games has picked up on. Like many of us these days, Virgin's interested in suitable investors to get things to the next level in a number of strategic geo markets.

Virgin Games in conjunction with GDI (Game Domain International) have eyed Australia and the U.S with their A World Of My Own venture, which also features movie and comic book themes, however Virgin and AWOMO don't accept Aussie's at the time of publishing. Virgin does currently provide a broadband and mobile phone service to Aussie's.

The survey findings from a global pond showed just 4% of Australians had paid for online news content with 68% unlikely to do so in the future.

A further 78% said they would not pay for internet-only news sources.

The findings come as publishers increasingly explore online pay walls to sure up revenue streams as newspaper print readership continues to fall dramatically.

Newspapers and website portals have been ramping up gaming and gambling offers over the past 12 months. Sports betting on the horse racing, NRL, AFL, UFC, boxing and special events like the Olympics and Australian political elections have been extremely popular.

Consumers are much more willing to pay for online entertainment content, including movies (51%), books (49%), professionally produced video including current TV shows (46%) and music (44%).

However, a smaller percentage of people said they were willing to pay for newspapers (28%), internet-only news sources (21%) radio (11%) and blogs (9%).

Over the past 12 months Media Man has found that between 4 to 5% of online visitors will play games with approximately 50% of them later becoming "play for money" customers.

James Packer's Crown Casino is exploring igaming b2b deals. Earlier this year operators such as PartyGaming's PartyPoker offered satallite qualifiers to Crown's Aussie Millions Poker Championship.

A third of people said they would accept more ads online to support content costs but 75% objected to combining online ads with paid for content.

The survey polled 500 people in Australia.

This news comes as News Corp's Rupert Murdoch is seriously considering suing Google, largely over Google's "grabbing" of News Limited content, some of which ends up in the Google search engine results and via the Google News service.

Media Man observing and analyzing the merging of the entertainment, media and gaming industries, has recently relaunched http://www.australiansportsentertainment.com

The clear trend is that customers want to interact and be entertained and informed, either for free or at a price, if they feel they are getting value. Strong brands are leveraging off their trust and relationship with their audience. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts attached to websites give punters extra value and enjoyment.

Iconic brands and entities such as Monopoly (Hasbro), Rambo (StudioCanal), Top Gun (Paramount Pictures), James Bond, Tomb Raider (Eidos Interactive), Andre The Giant, UFC, Iron-Man (Marvel), KISS and Wheel Of Fortune (Sony and FremantleMedia) are among those that most consumers instantly recognize. Web surfers generally enjoy the option of reading about their "hero", then having the option to watch multimedia and then play its game title, be it for free or for a moderate charge.

Fairfax Media recently inked a "white label" deal on a games portfolio and News Limited continues to make noise and revenue with its Fox Sports betting options.

The Asia Pacific region remains attractive to many strong igaming companies, even though some say there is significant "grey area" within the territory. Bullish firms will see that as a positive, as the gaming and igaming sector has never been one for cowards.

The late news... Media Man has just been awarded the Hitwise Australia top ten award (#8 in the Entertainment - Personalities sector). Note, it's the entertainment - celeb sector (not the gambling sector Senator Conroy and friends).

Finally, a few apt words of wisdom from media barons in the know...

"Internet is like electricity" (James Packer)

"Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow" (Rupert Murdoch).

"In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who
learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed" (Charles Darwin)

*The writer is a special contributor for Gambling911

*The writer owns shares in Crown Casino

*The writer has b2b dealings with a number of PartyGaming and Virgin brands

*Greg Tingle is the founder and director of Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company.

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