Online Content Spending Hits $2 Billion in 2005

Music sales helped propel U.S. spending on online content to a record $2 billion last year, a 15 percent increase from 2004, the Online Publishers Association reports.

The entertainment/lifestyle category, which in 2005 surpassed personals/dating to become the leading category of paid content, will likely get an even bigger boost this year with the availability of more video online.

Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) opened its iTunes Music Store to video late in the year, while Google Inc. (GOOG) did not begin offering paid video until January 2006.

"Consumers are viewing the Web platform and going online as a major destination for entertainment," said Pam Horan, vice president of marketing and membership for the New York-based trade group of media companies.

A few categories saw declines: sports, by 3 percent; user-generated content sites, such as and, the latter of which is owned by Amazon (AMZN), by 7 percent; and general news, by 11 percent.

Horan notes that consumers have plenty of sources for free news, so publishers may ultimately find that an advertisement-based business model works best.

The study, released Tuesday, was based on tracking by comScore Networks and excludes some types of content including pornography, gambling and software.