Touch to buy now: will cultural audiences pay for digital content?

Indigo’s After The Interval sentiment tracker survey has reached over 130,000 regular cultural attenders in the UK, and to date remains the largest indicator of audience sentiment since the COVID 19 Pandemic began.  

Indigo has worked with Baker Richards and The Audience Agency to analyse what the data tells us about digital engagement with culture and audiences’ willingness to pay for culture online.

The good news is that while only a minority of loyal arts audiences are currently paying to consume digital, there is a general willingness to pay in future. However, as most people expect to pay less than they would for a live experience, without substantial audience growth digital revenues cannot be relied on to sustain the UK’s existing arts infrastructure.

Shifting away from the abundance of free content, a laudable response in a global crisis, to a paid model will be a challenge. A perception has been created that digital culture is free to access – this will take some time to overcome.”

David Reece, Deputy CEO Baker Richards

Findings include

  • Only 25% of frequent attenders had engaged with culture online before lockdown, rising to 59% by July.
  • 82% of respondents would possibly or definitely consider engaging with digital culture in the future.
  • Audiences aged 15-24 were most likely to engage online, and most willing to pay.
  • Respondents with higher levels of safety concern about returning to live theatre expressed a greater willingness to pay for digital than those with no safety concerns.
  • There was a greater willingness to pay for audiences of ‘high art’ (e.g. opera, ballet, drama)
  • Just 12% of respondents had paid to take part in culture online.
  • Audiences are unsure of the quality of digital culture – this holds back willingness to pay.

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