A majority of visitors to websites of monthly magazines in the US are accessing the content online rather than paying for a copy, according to a survey by Nielsen//NetRatings and MRI.

An average of 83% of visitors to the sites of the 23 high circulation monthlies that were featured in the study did not read the magazine offline.

The two companies plan to publish Net//MRI data monthly, providing audience measurement for print media with complementary websites.

Other stats from the study (pdf):

  • Male visitors to magazine websites were more likely than female visitors to read the online content only. 90% of men ready only the online version, compared with 83% of women.
  • Among the individual magazine titles studied, the percentage of web-only users ranges from 65% to 96%.

Unfortunately, the report doesn’t tell us whether people who would have previously bought a copy of the magazine are choosing to read online instead, affecting the offline sales of these titles.

A separate Nielsen study recently found that online newspaper websites have been experiencing growth, with visitor numbers increasing by 5.3% over the past year.