RealTime IT News

Report Shows Internet Spending Jumps

The Internet continued to grow as a marketplace last year with consumer spending on online content increasing 14 percent to $1.8 billion, according to a published report.

The biggest increases in 2004 came in spending for entertainment, which soared 90 percent in 2004 to $413.5 million from $217.6 million in 2003, according to the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and survey partner comScore Networks, a group that studies consumer behavior online.

"The fact that entertainment, sports and games were by far the year's fastest growing paid content categories is further evidence that the Web is on its way to becoming a true entertainment medium for U.S. consumers," Michael Zimbalist, president of the Online Publishers Association, said.

Zimbalist attributed the growth to an increase in access to high-speed Internet connections, enabling users faster and easier downloading capabilities of entertainment content, such as music and videos. He also said that Internet users continue to become more and more comfortable with spending dollars online.

As previously reported by internetnews.com, the trend of legally downloading music has been on the rise in recent months and is capable of continuing its increase.

According to a January report conducted by the IFPI, (the trade organization representing the international recording industry), music downloading grew tenfold from 2003 when 20 million tracks were downloaded in the United States and Europe to more than 200 million tracks in 2004.

According to the OPA study, the total spent music, dating sites and information on businesses and investments reached nearly $2 billion last year.

Although dating sites grew only 4.4 percent, they still boast the largest revenue in the entertainment category, with total spending at $469.5 million. Spending on business and investment services fell 6.3 percent to $312.9 million, the survey said.

Also up was spending on games, which jumped 21.8 percent to $88.8 million, and sports, which increaded 38 percent to $52.8 million.

Whether purchasing content or more tangible goods, the trend of spending online has continued to steadily increase. During this pastholiday season as previously reported by internetnews.com, consumer confidence purchasing online is on the rise.

The OPA study does not include pornography; spending by businesses on industry newsletters and other publications; or fees from the growing popularity in online games known as "massively multiplayer online role-playing games," or MMORPGs.