UK Net Use Leads Europe

More than 10 million people in the UK now have access to the Internet — more than in any other country in Europe, but still far less than in North America, according to a new survey.

The United States remains the overwhelming online leader with 75.7 million Internet users, according to market research firm MMXI Europe, which released its latest findings Monday. The United States is followed by Japan with 16.4 million, and Canada with 11.9 million.

Germany is the second most connected European country, with 8.7 million Internet users. Next is Austria with 5.5 million, France with 4 million and Sweden with 3.9 million.

Sports Sites Fastest Growing

Notably, the UK findings by MMXI Europe are in conflict with earlier studies. Fletcher Research found 15.7 million users in the United Kingdom in a study released last month, while Continental Research reported 14 million.

The MMXI survey indicates that most UK users are males, and that they are most interested in computer and financial sites. However, the survey findings coincide with other recent studies reporting that sports sites are growing the fastest.

A Euroquest Future Track survey showed that in May 1999, 2.4 million Britons looked at Web sports sites. Results showed that sports sites were the leading sites for males in Belgium, Spain and Austria.

Sports sites are considered highly “sticky” and are valued because of their wealthy demographics: they attract university educated males who have higher incomes. Tennis and golf sites, in particular, draw an affluent audience.

Wealthy Surfers

Analysts predict sports sites will become one of the most profitable areas in e-commerce. A report by Screen Digest last month suggested that advertising revenues for sports sites will leap from $612 million (US$) to $6.27 billion by 2005. General sports, soccer, basketball, motorsports and wrestling sites will benefit the most, the study said.

The report also predicted revenues from merchandise sales will soar from $186 million to $5.8 billion while ticket sales revenues will go from $60.5 million to $2.9 billion.

More Blue-Collar Workers Online

The MMXI study showed Internet use by British blue-collar and manual workers almost doubled to 24 percent of all users since May 1999. Also, although older teens and young adults constitute only 12 percent of the overall population, they represent a third of the online population.

Further findings of the seven-country survey revealed that Britons spend an average of five hours a month online. The most popular sites are Yahoo!, Freeserve, Amazon.UK and the BBC. However, people tend to stick with AOL sites the longest.

In addition, although mobile phone sales exploded in the United Kingdom in the second quarter — there are now 30.6 million mobile phones in the country, more than half the UK population — sales of mobile phones with Internet access lagged far behind, due to disenchantment with clumsy and slow WAP technology.

MMXI Europe’s parent company is Media Metrix, which announced a merger with Jupiter Communications last month. The resulting company, to be called Jupiter Media Metrix, will form one of the largest Internet research firms in the world.

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