The Online Publishers Association is promoting a study [PDF] that says online content sales in the U.S. totaled $1.3 billion in 2002, an increase of 95% over 2001.
However, a closer examination of the data makes this billion-dollar figure suspicious. Here are some of my observations from their top 25, which I have classified into Content, Service, Entertainment, and Database:
- The single biggest category is more properly described as “services”. It includes Yahoo, MSN, and personals.
- Yahoo is seeing results from its efforts to increase revenues from fees, and MSN is falling behind.
- Financial information is the biggest contributor to true content sale, with sales of $292 million.
- The OPA describes financial content as “maturing”, with a growth rate of 18%.
- Sales of “General News” rose from $52 million to $70 million. No “General News” site was in the top 25.
- Consumer Reports and Encyclopedia Britannica are the two true consumer content brands on the list.
- Consumer Reports has fallen from #5 to #11.
- The IEEE.org site sells conferences, so it’s not clear how much of their revenue is really for content.
- Pressplay, the much-maligned music service, is on the list at #22.
- ESPN’s revenues are apparently mostly from fantasy sports games.
- It’s not clear why Playboy is on the list, since “pornography” is excluded from the survey.
Here are the top 25 content sites, according to the OPA:
|1||yahoo.com||up from #4|
|3||real.com||down from #1|
|5||wsj.com||down from #2|
|11||consumerreports.org||down from #5|
|16||playboy.com||OPA says it excludes “pornography”|
|18||msn.com||down from #15|
|20||ieee.org||Does this include conference sales from web site?|