Culture statistics - use of ICT for cultural purposes
- Data extracted in May 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: August 2018.
Information and communication technology (ICT) is gaining importance in the EU as a means of cultural participation. Nowadays, the internet allows people to take part in cultural activities that were previously inconceivable, such as creating, downloading and sharing cultural content, watching films and videos online, streaming live concerts, etc. Cultural institutions and other providers of cultural services are adapting their products and services to new technological tools.
Eurostat’s statistics on the use of ICT for cultural purposes are gathered from the annual Community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 1.1 Households with internet access
- 1.2 Use of internet for cultural purposes
- 1.3 Use of internet to purchase cultural goods or services
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
Households with internet access
New forms of online cultural participation have emerged with the development of digital technologies and the spread of internet. In 2016, 85 % of households in the EU had internet access, regardless of the type of connection. This share increased by 12 percentage points since 2011 (73 %) (see Figure 1).
At country level, the largest shares of households with internet access were registered in Luxembourg and the Netherlands (97 % each). Five other Member States presented shares of internet connected households above 90 %: Denmark and Sweden (94 % each), the United Kingdom (93 %) and Germany and Finland (92 % each).
On the other hand, the lowest proportions were registered in Bulgaria (64 %) and Greece (69 %) followed by Romania and Lithuania (72 % each). The four mentioned countries plus Portugal and Cyprus all showed a 2-digit difference in comparison with the EU average. Nevertheless, this difference has reduced compared with 2011 due to the increase in the number of households with internet connections.
Use of internet for cultural purposes
Main patterns by cultural activity
Reading online news sites/newspapers/news magazines
Reading online news sites and newspapers was particularly popular among internet users in Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Finland and Sweden (at least 85 % of internet users). On the other hand, only 49 % of internet users in Ireland and 56 % in France read news online (See Table 1 Part I).
Watching internet streamed TV or videos
With the development of streaming technology and smart TV, more and more films, videos, TV programs and series can be accessed via internet. Specifically dedicated platforms offer streaming services but also traditional TV broadcasters adapt their offer and propose their content to be viewed on internet in time-delayed form. In 2016, 68 % of internet users in the EU declared watching internet streamed TV or videos from various platforms and sharing services. It must be noted that downloading is not included in this variable. When analysing the usage of streaming technology to view films or videos across EU Member States, we can observe an important difference of around 30 percentage points between countries with the highest shares (at least 85 %) and countries with the lowest shares (less than 55 %). Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland and Sweden were in the group with the highest percentages and Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Slovakia had the lowest shares (see Table 1 Part II).
Listening to music (e.g. web radio, music streaming)
Like films and videos, music and radio broadcasting are also available on streaming. In the EU, 2016, 50 % of internet users listened to music via web radio or on streaming (downloading excluded). In Malta, Finland and Sweden at least 65 % of internet users used such streaming facilities compared with 28 % in Croatia (see Table 1 Part II).
Playing or downloading games
Playing and downloading games refers to playing games online or after downloading them. In the EU, 34 % of internet users were keen on this activity in 2016. At least 40 % of internet users in Belgium, Denmark, Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands and Romania declared having played or downloaded games in the three months prior to the survey against around one quarter in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland and Slovenia (see Table 1 Part II).
Consulting wikis is a way of getting informed and deepening knowledge on different subjects. According to the latest available data on this topic, in 2015, 56 % of EU internet users consulted wikis and they were at least 75 % in Germany, Luxembourg and Finland. The lowest shares of internet users reading wiki articles of around 30 % were found in Ireland, France, Latvia and Romania (see Table 1 Part I).
Creating websites or blogs
Creating websites or blogs does not seem to attract much interest among internet users. On average in the EU, only 6 % of them declared creating websites or blogs in 2016. The highest values were reported by Denmark (10 %) and Hungary (9 %) (see Table 1 Part I).
Analysis by socio-economic characteristics of individuals
Online participation in culture can be analysed by socio-economic characteristics of internet users such as sex, age, educational attainment level, income level, degree of urbanization, country of birth or working status (see Table 2).
In 2016, in the EU, relatively more men than women were found to use internet for cultural purposes and this pattern was confirmed for all six cultural activities analysed. The online participation rates were also significantly higher in the youngest age group 16–24 compared to older age groups except for reading online news.
The participation among internet users with higher educational attainment level outnumbered the participation rates in other educational groups for all cultural purposes except playing and downloading games — this activity seemed to attract more people with lower educational attainment.
The higher participation was also correlated with higher income level. This was however not true for playing or downloading games which gathered the same shares of internet users across all income quartiles. What is interesting is that the lowest activity rates for the remaining cultural activities were found in the 2nd and not in the 1st quartile (except reading news and newspapers).
The variable ‘degree of urbanisation’ compared internet users living in densely and intermediate populated areas against those living in sparsely populated areas. Here, higher shares in using internet for cultural purposes were found in the first two categories. Availability of internet access in the less populated areas could partly explain the lower participation rates.
The picture was more heterogeneous regarding the remaining breakdown variables like 'country of birth' and 'employment status'. In 2016 relatively larger numbers of native-born internet users read online news, played or downloaded games or consulted wiki. On the other hand, foreign-born internet users were found proportionally more numerous than native-born ones to watch internet streamed TV or videos and to listen to music.
As for the 'working status', it is not surprising to find the highest online participation rates among internet users who were students and then among employed against inactive internet users. The picture was more varied when comparing employed with unemployed; higher participation was found among employed internet users reading online news, consulting wikis and creating websites and blogs while unemployed internet users were more inclined to play or download games. Employment situation did not have any differentiating impact on watching internet streamed TV or videos and on listening to music. Equal shares of employed and unemployed internet users accessed these two types of cultural content via internet in 2016.
Internet user young or old - everybody reads news online
At EU-level, the percentage of internet users reading online news varies only slightly with age. In 2016, 70 % of internet users (aged 16–74) read online newspapers (see Table 1 Part I). The percentage was 68 % among internet users aged 16–24 and 66 % among those aged 55–74. Only in Estonia, Austria, Portugal and Finland the difference between these two age groups was significantly in favour of young internet users. The opposite situation was observed in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania — with significantly higher shares of older internet users reading online newspapers.
The differences by age are more accentuated in consulting wikis: 69 % of internet users aged 16–24 and 47 % of internet users aged 55–74 years old were seeking information through wikis. A large difference in favour of the younger age group (of at least 40 percentage points) was observed in Denmark, Croatia, Latvia and Slovenia.
As for creating websites and blogs, a relatively small part of the internet users in the EU showed an interest in using this internet feature (6 %). The share of young internet users using this facility was relatively higher than the share of among older ones (9 % against 3 % at EU level). This trend was also confirmed at country level and relatively big discrepancies were observed in the majority of the Member States. The highest shares of young internet users creating websites or blogs in 2016 were found in Estonia and Denmark, with 15 % and 14 % respectively while the lowest (6 % or less) were observed in Ireland, Greece, France, Italy and Poland. This activity was the most popular among the older internet users in Denmark and Luxembourg (7 % against 3 % on average).
The most marked differences by age group can however be seen in the three remaining online cultural activities: watching internet streamed TV or videos, listening to music and playing or downloading games (see Table 1 Part II). At EU level, the largest difference in participation in these activities between the youngest and the oldest internet users was noted for listening to music (54 percentage points), followed by watching internet streamed TV or videos (38 percentage points) and playing or downloading games (36 percentage points).
Regarding the level of popularity of these three types of cultural activities, internet as a dissemination platform was used especially for watching internet streamed TV and videos. In the EU, 68 % of individuals who used internet in the 3 months prior to the survey declared having used it for this activity. This share was particularly high among young internet users in thirteen countries (above 90 %) with notably 99 % of young people using internet for this purpose in Denmark and Finland. There were only five countries with the percentage of young internet users watching TV and videos via internet below 80 %: Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
While the average rate of persons aged 16–74 using internet for listening to music was 50 % in the EU, it was 80 % for young internet users aged 16–24 and 26 % for internet users aged 55–74. In Denmark, Estonia and Finland at least 90 % of internet users aged 16–24 listened to music via internet. The lowest rate (37 %) was observed in Croatia. Higher shares for this activity among internet users aged 55–74 were observed in Estonia, Luxembourg, Malta and Sweden (at least 40 %). The internet as a platform for accessing music was the least popular in the older age group in Bulgaria — 13 % only.
Playing and downloading games reached the level of 34 % of internet users aged 16–74 in the EU, with 57 % of game players among young internet users and 21 % among older ones. The share of young internet users was particularly high (above 65 %) in Denmark, Cyprus, Hungary and Romania. For the 55–74 age group, the percentage of internet users playing or downloading games was the highest in Belgium, Denmark, Malta, the Netherlands and Finland (at least 25 %), but accounted for half of the EU average in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Ireland.
Men more captivated than women by entertainment activities via internet
Men seem to be more interested than women in cultural and entertainment activities via internet. There is a moderate relative surplus in favour of men — not exceeding 6 percentage points at EU level — in using internet for such cultural purposes as reading newspapers, watching TV, listening to music and playing games (see Table 3). This trend is generalized at country level but there are few exceptions. In 2016, the share of women using the internet for reading online news, newspapers and magazines was higher than for men in Malta, Slovakia and Finland. Malta was also the only country with larger share of women watching internet streamed TV and videos. The exceptions in favour of female internet users in listening to music were found in Cyprus and Slovenia, whereas in Malta and the United Kingdom female internet users were more likely to play or download games than men.
The gender gap in favour of men appeared to be quite significant especially for internet users playing or downloading games, with several countries registering two-digit differences. The gender discrepancy (of above 10 percentage points) was particularly high among internet users playing or downloading games in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia (see Table 3).
As concerns the remaining cultural categories, the differences between women and men were less contrasted and they exceeded two-digit numbers in favour of men only in Germany for watching internet TV and listening to music and in Hungary for listening to music.
Playing or downloading games is more popular among those with a lower level of education
Figure 3 and Table 4 show data on the use of internet for cultural purposes broken down by the educational attainment of individuals as classified by the International standard classification of education (ISCED). Taking the three online cultural activities combined (films and videos, music and games) it appears that the share of internet users with higher educational attainment who used the internet for cultural purposes is higher than for those with lower level of education in seventeen Member States. In Luxembourg, on the other hand, the factor of education does not seem to have any impact and in Austria, Finland, Denmark, Cyprus and Greece it is very limited (5 percentage points or less of difference between the two groups).
The situation is more nuanced when analysing each cultural activity separately (see Table 4). There is a strong correlation between educational attainment and use of internet for reading online news, newspapers and news magazines. 83 % of EU internet users with higher education used the internet in 2016 to read newspapers and magazines (with many countries reporting levels above 90 %). This contrasts with 55 % among internet users with lower educational attainment (EU level). In France and the United Kingdom this latter figure was 40 % and in Ireland 28 %.
The patterns were similar for internet streamed TV and videos. The share of internet users with higher education who watched internet streamed TV or videos was found to be higher than among users with lower educational attainment in all the Member States except the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Over 90 % of higher educated internet users accessed the films and videos online in Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden while less than a half of them watched streamed TV and videos in Bulgaria and Romania.
Listening to music shows a bit more variation with eleven countries reporting higher shares of users who listened to music via internet among persons with low educational attainment. Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia presented the significant difference of more than 15 percentage points in favour of internet users with low educational attainment. The highest shares of at least 70 % of internet users listening to music were found among higher educated in Denmark and Sweden and among persons with lower educational attainment in Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. The lowest rates in both educational categories were reported in Croatia.
Finally, as concerns downloading and playing games by educational attainment, at EU level, in 2016, 42 % of internet users with lower education played or downloaded games compared with 30 % of users with high educational attainment. From a Member States' perspective, the percentage of internet users with low educational attainment who played or downloaded games was higher than among highly educated internet users in all the EU countries except only in Malta and the United Kingdom. The differences were very high in few EU countries, in particular in the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Poland (above 30 percentage points). The highest shares for this activity among internet users with low educational attainment (of more than 55 %) were found in Lithuania, Hungary and Romania. The highest shares among internet users with higher education were observed in Denmark, Cyprus and the Netherlands (at least 40 %). Higher educated internet users showed the lowest interest for this activity (20 %) in Estonia, Poland and Slovenia.
Use of internet to purchase cultural goods or services
Another way to approach cultural participation is to analyse data on the use of internet to purchase the following cultural goods or services:
- films and music;
- books, magazines and newspapers;
- tickets for cultural and sporting events.
The data presented below show the proportion of e-shoppers of cultural goods or services among internet users. The reference period covers the twelve months prior to the survey, so takes into account seasonal fluctuations in e-commerce.
Variations in time
In e-commerce in general, between 2011 and 2016, the share of individuals who used internet in the last 12 months prior to the survey to buy any goods or services grew by 8 percentage points (from 58 % in 2011 to 66 % in 2016). Among cultural items, tickets for events showed a quite comparable trend with an increase of 4 percentage points, from 21 % in 2011 to 25 % in 2016 (see Table 5). As for purchasing books, magazines and newspapers, the share of internet users was 22 % in 2016 and grew only by 1 percentage point compared with 2011.
The reverse trend was observed for buying films or music. Between 2011 and 2016, a 2 percentage point decrease was noted from 17 % to 15 %. This slight fall may be linked to the increase of other types of offer and the emergence of streaming, sharing and subscription platforms for music or motion picture.
The analysis of e-commerce trends by countries shows that the percentage of internet users buying cultural goods or services varies considerably between EU Member States. As it can be observed on Figure 5, in 2016, the share of e-shoppers for the three categories of cultural goods or services was consistently above the EU average in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and Germany. The lowest percentages of internet users (below 10 %) buying the three cultural categories were found in Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Greece. These differences in consumer behaviour may be due to a preference to shop in person or a lack of trust in the quality of goods or in the security of online payments. The availability of cultural goods online, the variety of the offer and attractive prices also plays an important role in purchasing choices.
As for the dynamic of purchasing trends between 2011 and 2016 at country level (see Table 5), the share of internet users buying books, magazines and newspapers increased at a moderate pace, with the highest increase found in Estonia (+11 percentage points). Ten countries saw their shares contracting in this category, notably Finland (-6 percentage points), Slovenia and Sweden (-4 percentage points each). Remarkable shares of internet users buying book and newspaper in 2016 were noticed in Luxembourg (50 %), Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (34 % each) and contrasted with 2 % in Bulgaria and 4 % in Romania.
In the category 'films or music', the share of internet users buying those goods fell in 17 EU countries between 2011 and 2016. The highest drop of 11 percentage points was recorded in Denmark. In the remaining 11 countries, the share kept the 2011 level or rose very slightly (see Table 5). Luxembourg and the United Kingdom had the highest proportions of internet users buying films or music online (31 % and 35 % respectively). There were however numerous countries (13) reporting insignificant shares of 5 % or less of internet users buying films or music.
As for the tickets for events over the period 2011 and 2016, the percentage of internet users making online purchases increased in all EU Member States except Greece and France (–1 percentage point). The biggest progression in terms of percentage points was recorded in Estonia (+21 percentage points), the Netherlands (+13 percentage points), Croatia (+11 percentage points) and Lithuania (+10 percentage points). In 2016, around one in two internet users bought tickets online in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark (2015 data) against not more than one in twenty-five in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania.
Socio-economic characteristics of consumers
The ICT survey allows the analysis of the patterns of purchasing cultural goods or services by the following socio-economic variables: age, sex, educational attainment level, country of birth, income level, degree of urbanization and working status (see Table 6).
In terms of impact of age, the 2016 data show that persons aged 25–54 were the most numerous (in relative terms) in buying books, magazines, newspapers and tickets for events. It is not surprising since the majority of people in this age group are in employment and have regular income.
The youngest internet users (16–24 year old) showed the lowest interest for buying books/magazines and newspapers compared to other age categories. It must be noted that many of the people aged 16–24 are still in education, and therefore do not necessarily have a regular income and this determines their purchasing choices. Young internet users were however relatively overrepresented in buying films or music (17 % against 15 % on average) which reflects the relative importance of this kind of entertainment. Compared to other age categories, the lowest shares of online shopping for films or music and for tickets for events were recorded for internet users in the oldest age group (55–74). However, the share of internet users aged 55–74 buying books and press online was higher than that observed among young internet users.
As concerns the differences by sex, more female internet users were prone to buy books, magazines and newspapers online than men. On the contrary, the share of male internet users was higher for buying films or music. There was almost no difference between male and female internet users in buying tickets for events.
The educational attainment level appears to have a strong effect on buying cultural articles or services. The highest shares of internet users buying cultural items were found among higher educated persons. Their shares in ordering cultural goods were multiplied by factor 3 when compared to the shares of internet users with lower educational attainment. The percentage of internet users with lower education purchasing cultural goods online even decreased between 2011 and 2016 and the gap compared to higher educated widened.
The distribution of income is another variable impacting the purchasing patterns. It is also inter-correlated with other variables like age and educational attainment. When observing the shares of internet users purchasing cultural goods or services via internet in the 12 months prior to the survey, the demarcation line can be seen starting only from the 3rd quartile of income — the 1st and the 2nd quartiles of income present comparable shares of internet users buying goods or services in three cultural categories.
Regarding the degree of urbanisation, the difference and impact on e-commerce patterns is observed between persons living in sparsely populated areas on the one hand and persons living in intermediate and densely populated areas on the other hand. There are more internet users buying these categories of cultural goods in the intermediate and densely populated areas than in the sparsely populated, mostly rural areas.
Analysing the trends by working status, we observe once again that the internet users who are students (young people) buy less books, newspapers and tickets for events than employed internet users. However, they keep almost the same pattern as internet users who are employed for buying films or music, which shows how important music is for this age category. The most disadvantaged are persons in unemployment. The shares of unemployed internet users buying cultural goods accounted for almost half of the EU average for three cultural categories in 2016.
Data sources and availability
Data from the Community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals are available on a yearly basis from 2002 onwards. An institutional mandate was set by Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society. This Regulation aims to establish a common framework for the systematic production of Community statistics on the information society. Annual implementing regulations allow for some flexibility in the content of the surveys.
In the households/individuals surveys, microdata were collected on an optional basis until 2010, and collection has been mandatory since 2011. Microdata for scientific purposes can be obtained from Eurostat.
Culture is one of Europe’s greatest strengths: it is a source of values, identity and sense of belonging. It also contributes to people's well-being, to social cohesion and inclusion. The cultural and creative sectors are a driver of economic growth, job creation and external trade. That is why culture is becoming increasingly important at EU level. In accordance with art. 167 of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU ‘shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common heritage to the fore’.
The EU supports these objectives through the Creative Europe programme, as well as a number of policy actions set out in the Work Plan for Culture (2015–2018). This Work Plan, adopted by EU Culture Ministers in December 2014, sets out the main priorities for European cooperation in cultural policy-making: inclusive and accessible culture, the promotion of cultural heritage, support to the flowering of the cultural and creative sectors, promotion of cultural diversity and of culture in EU external relations.
The production of reliable, comparable and up-to-date cultural statistics, which are the basis of sound cultural policy-making, is also a cross-sectorial priority of this Work Plan.
Eurostat compiles culture statistics from several data collections conducted at EU level to provide policy-makers and other users with information on the main trends in employment, business, trade, participation and consumption patterns in the field of culture.
The data presented in this article can be used to statistically evaluate participation in cultural activities through the internet. These statistics can also contribute to the implementation of evidence-based policies in order to achieve the social objectives laid down in the Digital Agenda for Europe.
Further Eurostat information
- Culture Statistics - 2016 Edition
- Cultural Statistics Pocketbook - 2011 Edition
- Cultural Statistics Pocketbook - 2007 Edition
- Culture (cult)
- Cultural participation and expenditure (cult_pcs)
- Internet activities - individuals (isoc_ci_ac_i)
- Internet purchases by individuals (isoc_ec_ibuy)
- Purpose of mobile internet use (isoc_cimobi_purp)
- Use of cloud services (isoc_cicci_use)
- Cultural participation and expenditure (cult_pcs)
Methodology / Metadata
Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society contains two modules covering:
- households and individuals;
The population of households consists of all households having at least one member in the 16–74 age group. The population of individuals consists of all individuals aged 16–74 (on an optional basis some countries collect separate data on other age groups — individuals aged 15 years or less, aged 75 or above). Data are generally collected through face to face or telephone interviews and the reference time period is the last 12 months prior to the survey.
Relevant statistics on the ICT usage for cultural purposes are retrieved from the annual standard survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals. The following groups of indicators are presented:
- households with access to internet (context);
- use of internet for cultural purposes;
- use of internet for purchasing cultural goods and services.
Further methodological information:
- European statistical system network on culture (ESSnet-Culture final report (2012))
- ICT survey methodological manuals
Related metadata files:
- Cultural participation and expenditure (ESMS metadata file)
- ICT usage in households and by individuals (ESMS metadata file)
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world (COM(2007) 242)
- Decision No 1352/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Culture Programme (2007–2013)
- European Council Work Plan for Culture (2015–2018)
- Regulation (EU) No 1295/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Creative Europe Programme (2014–2020)
- Regulation(EC) No 808/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 Community statistics on the information society)
- European Commission — Education and culture
- European Commission — Culture for growth and jobs
- Creative Europe
- Digital Agenda for Europe