U.S. consumers find greater value in online media, says research

Consumers in the United States say they get greater value from online media than they derive from offline media, according to new research from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

On average consumers online receive a benefit, which BCG dubs a “consumer surplus,” of $970 per year, compared to about $900 annually for offline media. According to BCG, a “consumer surplus” is the value consumers themselves assign to a media-related activity or product over what they paid for it.

The findings, presented in “Follow the Surplus: How U.S. Consumers Value Online Media,” looked at the surplus consumers say they derive from books, radio and music, U.S. newspapers and magazines, TV and movies, video games, international newspapers and magazines, and user-generated content (UGC) and social networks. At the top of the surplus scale was USG and social networks ($311).

"This surplus [from online media] will only continue to grow, driven by consumers' appreciation for an expanding array of high-quality content and the proliferation of devices," said BCG senior partner and coauthor of the report John Rose.

The research also found:

  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) of consumers say they have more access to higher-quality online content today than three years ago.
  • Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) cite the unique nature of such content as a major reason to go online.
  • The same percentage believes that the Internet promotes U.S. culture abroad.
  • More than three-quarters (77 percent) feel that it is their own responsibility to filter for accurate online content, and they believe they have the capability to do so effectively.
  • By a margin of some five to one, U.S. consumers are more excited about the Internet's potential rewards than they are worried about the potential risks.

"Shrewd media companies that build effective digital capabilities will enjoy opportunities to extract some of this growing consumer surplus for themselves," said Neal Zuckerman, a BCG partner and coauthor of the report.