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US online content spend up 15 per cent year-on-year

The US Online Publishers Association (OPA) released its Paid Content US Market Spending Report, this week, covering Q1 and Q2 of 2005. The study, conducted by comScore Networks, found that consumer spending for online content in the US grew to $987m in the first half of 2005, an increase of 15.7 per cent over the same period last year. For the first time ever, in Q2 of 2005, quarterly sales of content topped half a billion dollars.

Spurred by growth in online music sales, 'Entertainment/Lifestyles' overtook 'Personals/Dating' to become the leading paid content category, with consumers spending $264.8m on the category in the first half of 2005. 'Personals/Dating' grew to $245.2m in the first half of 2005, while 'Business/Investment' content remained in third place with spending at $159.1m.

The 'Entertainment/Lifestyles' category was by far the fastest-growing paid content category in the first half of 2005, up 44.8 per cent over the same period last year. However, after registering steady declines during the first half of 2004, the 'Research' category also surged back with a 33.8 per cent year-over-year increase, the second-largest percentage gain among all categories. 'Games' and 'Personal Growth' were also up significantly, by 22.5 per cent and 19.4 per cent, respectively.

Single purchase sales, as opposed to subscriptions, continued to rise. In the first half of 2005, single purchases accounted for 20.1 per cent of total online content sales, up from 15.4 per cent in 2004. Single-purchase sales in the 'Entertainment/Lifestyles' category, alone, accounted for $114.9m in revenue in the first half of 2005.

Out of a total U.S. online population of 171m in the second quarter of 2005, 19.4m paid for online content, up 15.6 per cent from the 16.8m who paid for content online in Q2 2004. The 15.6 per cent growth in paid-content consumers in Q2 2005 over Q2 2004 is substantially greater than the growth of the US internet population during the same time period (11.9 percent).

The full report covering the first half of 2005 can be found at the Online Publishers Association website.

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