A new study has predicted that the value of paid-for content consumed via the web in Western Europe will reach an annual total of £8bn by 2017.

The report, by influential independent research organisation Forrester, says that this increase – representing a growth factor of 65 per cent on 2012 figures – will be spurred on by the expected rise in smartphone and tablet ownership.

The online content covered by Forrester’s analysis comprises music, news, film, TV and games.

Paid news content in particular, the report says, is likely to demonstrate strong online growth, with consumer expenditure in this area expected to total nearly £250m – an increase of 77 per cent on current figures.

Forrester says that in terms of the total number of subscribers to news content, this is likely to increase from 4.8m in 2012 to 8.1m in 2017 – a rise of 68 per cent.

Twenty per cent of tablet owners, the report says, will be among this predicted 2017 total.

Among the online news providers cited by Forrester as likely to benefit from this growing demand are the Financial Times, the Times, the Sunday Times, the New York Times, and Wall Street Journal Europe.

Commenting on the Forrester findings, one of its analysts, Darika Ahrens, said:

“While consumer research for years reported that consumers claimed they wouldn’t pay for content, the forecast revenues indicate otherwise.”

Ahrens added that Forrester believed that consumer demand for paid online content had been growing since 2009, but suppliers had thus far simply failed to capitalise on this demand.

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