That’s Not Entertainment takes

Here’s bad news for people who hope the Internet will soon become our primary entertainment medium and good news for those who fear that prospect. Based on polling of consumers in five countries, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report says “home Internet users overall are researching information or sending or receiving e-mail.” When respondents were asked to give a list of reasons why they access the Internet from home, 51 percent in the U.S. included entertainment (such as playing games or streaming music)—as did 46 percent in France, 45 percent in the U.K., 42 percent in Australia and 40 percent in Germany. But when asked to cite their “primaryreasons” for going online, just 6 percent in the U.S. picked entertainment. The figure was lower still in Europe (4 percent) and Australia (2 percent). For the Internet to emerge as a “viable alternative source for entertainment, broadband access must increase in hand with more compelling content.” As things stand, a majority of consumers who could have broadband access seem in no rush to get it. Germany is the sole exception, where 48 percent use a broadband connection. Elsewhere, people are put off by the cost—and by a sense they simply don’t need it yet. Among other info-tidbits from the survey: A majority of those who stream music would stop if they had to pay for it—75 percent in the U.S., 70 percent in Australia and 63 percent in Europe. Meanwhile, about 12 percent in the five countries are now downloading or streaming videos and short films.John Lund/Tony Stone