Consider the media we consume on a daily basis. A stock iPhone suggests various news highlights throughout the day using the “News” app. Apps like News aren’t the only sources for free journalism. Yet, The New York Times’ online subscription—which runs about $27 per month—continues to grow.
Paid content is not only popular with the news. According to Nielsen survey among 9,100 people in China, Germany, India, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States: 16% – pay for news, 44% – pay for entertainment, 61% – of young people (16-34) pay for entertainment, 22% – of those over 55 pay for entertainment.
The Media Insight Project did a study that found that the same consumers paying for media would engage with a free version of the same content.
So, why would anyone pay for content when they could find something similar for free?
And why are OTT content owners or providers becoming more popular?
Here are several reasons why consumers pay for content and why you might consider monetizing your content online.
1. Consumers Save Time
Paying usually makes the process of finding and using quality content efficient and simple. Let’s look at live stage theatre. If you wanted to show someone a clip from Romeo and Juliet, you could search through hundreds of free videos on YouTube trying to find a high quality clip with good audio. Or, you could pay for digital access to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production and have the exact video you want as quickly as you can type your billing information.
Paying for OTT content ultimately saves the user a lot of time. They are guaranteed high quality OTT content without having to search through several pages. This model applies to online courses and instructional videos, entertainment media, news, research articles, and more.
2. Less Effort for Your Users.
It depends on the video monetization model, but paying for OTT content gives users access to all of their media on one OTT platform, instead of needing to search through several different sites. Paying for a workout video provides the user with the video, but also with downloadable exercises, a workout plan, and other necessary materials so the user doesn’t need to search other websites for this information.
3. Personalized OTT Content
Content creators all have different personalities, and finding a personality you enjoy or can learn from can be difficult. You might need a serious, focused teacher. You might need an energetic, cheerful workout instructor. You might need academic, detailed instructions.
When users are able to find a personality they prefer, they are more willing to pay for more OTT content from that source. Users may be able to consume some OTT content for free, but a successful creator will charge for some of their OTT content. It can be sold, traded, or monetized in various revenue models, such as AVOD, SVOD, or TVOD.
4. Monetizing Trust
The internet provides everyone with access to generate content and publish it, especially with the help of blogs or YouTube. It doesn’t matter if they are qualified to create the content or add their voice to the discussion.
Because of this, internet users can’t inherently trust online content. In order to verify the content, the user needs to research the creator and usually find several other sources confirming the accuracy of the content. This takes time, and many people just won’t do it.
Paid OTT content takes away a lot of the mistrust. Finding information on the creator of paid OTT content is usually quick and simple: customer reviews, the website About Page, testimonials. If the creator’s information is good, then the user knows they can trust the original OTT content.
5. Specific Outcomes
Many users enroll in an online course or training because they want a specific outcome; learning to play the piano, earning a realtor’s license, and gaining a following on Instagram. However, they often do not know how to accomplish that goal. They could easily find related free OTT content, like downloadable sheet music or how to play the C major scale.
However, if users want a complete guide, paid OTT content is a better option. It usually scaffolds learning with all exercises and lessons included in the journey. This provides everything the user needs to accomplish mastery.
6. Guaranteed Results
Paid OTT content may come with a guarantee of success that free content cannot offer. If the customer doesn’t achieve a certain result—or isn’t satisfied—they often ask for a full or partial refund.
This guarantee encourages customers to purchase the OTT content because it further lowers the risk of engaging the content. They know they can trust the creator and they know the creator will return their money if the content doesn’t meet the standards it claims.
Think about the last time someone gave you something for free, like a free t-shirt at a baseball game. You were probably excited in the moment, but how much did you actually value that thing? Probably not as much as a t-shirt you actually purchased.
Ramit Sethi, bestselling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, describes this idea when his courses first gained traction.
“My friends would say to me, ‘Ramit, can you give me a course for free?’ And I always said yes.”
He continues, “I would always track to see whether they logged on. Can you guess if they did or not?
The answer is: Of course not. People value what they pay for.
Sethi claims this interaction kept happening. Until he started charging them for the $2000 course, and the people who paid almost always finished.
Consumers attribute value to your product when they have to pay for it.
8. Community Support
Many users pay for content in order to support their favorite artists, communities, or movements. Some websites use this to their advantage, like RIV, which provides exclusive content from independent musicians.
Our society places a large emphasis on supporting local. According to a 2016 study, 94 percent of people would say shopping at “mom and pop” businesses is important. So important, in fact, consumers will not only pay higher prices but also go out of their way to use those services.
The digital publication Slate uses this focus on community support to draw consumers into its “Slate Plus” membership. Users pay $35 a year for advanced access to content, fewer ads, and discounted tickets to events. However, according to the website, the main reason users purchase the subscription is “supporting independent journalism”.
In a society where unlimited, free content is easily accessible, paying for content seems illogical. But, with the reasons we just explored, your audience will gladly purchase your work. So, it’s time to start profiting from your content.
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