Statistics Explained

Culture statistics - use of ICT for cultural purposes


Data extracted in April 2021.

Planned article update: 24 August 2022.

Highlights

In 2020, 75 % of internet users in the EU read news/magazines online and 74 % watched internet streamed TV or videos.

Playing or downloading games in the EU is more popular among people with a lower level of education than among those with tertiary education.

Apart from printed books, cultural content on physical media is rarely purchased online.


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Share among people aged 16-74 years who used the internet in the previous three months for listening to music, by sex, EU, 2020 (%)

This article forms part of an online publication Culture statistics. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have gained importance as a means of cultural participation and are now the most significant way of accessing culture for large parts of society across the European Union (EU). Modern internet technologies make it possible for large numbers of people to take part in online cultural activities, such as creating and downloading and sharing cultural content (listening to music, watching films, streaming live concerts, and so on).

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.

Full article

Households with internet access

New forms of online cultural participation have emerged with the development of digital technologies and the spread of the internet. In 2020, 91 % of households in the EU had internet access (regardless of the type of connection); this is an increase of 10 percentage points when compared with 2015 (see Figure 1). A growing share of the EU population has access to the internet through mobile communication devices while they are on the move.

Among the EU Member States, internet access was almost universal in the Netherlands, covering 97 % of all households in 2020; note some people may choose not to have internet access. The share of households with access to the internet was at least 90 % in 17 of 27 EU-Member States and was lower than 80 % only in Bulgaria (79 %).

Some of the EU Member States that had relatively low rates of household internet access in 2015 showed a fast expansion in connectivity rates during the past five-years. Between 2015 and 2020, the share of households with access to the internet rose the fastest in Cyprus (by 22 percentage points), Bulgaria (by 20 p.p.) and Romania (by 18 p.p.).

Households with access to the internet, 2015 and 2020
(% of all households)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_in_h)

Use of the internet for cultural purposes

Coverage of internet users for cultural purposes

The information throughout this article concerning the use of the internet by individuals covers the adult population within the age range of 16 to 74 years; in some analyses, a narrower age range is used to focus specifically on younger or older internet users.

It should also be noted that the indicators presented in the section on the use of the internet for cultural purposes (in Figures 2 and 3, Maps 1 to 4 and Tables 1 to 3) are not calculated as a percentage of the whole population (within the specified age range), but uniquely among the people who had used internet during the previous three months. Equally, indicators presented in the section on the use of the internet to purchase cultural goods and services (in Figures 4 and 5 and Tables 4 and 5) are calculated only for people who used the internet in the previous year and made purchases during the three months prior to the survey (i.e. not for all the population). See metadata for more information.

Main patterns by cultural activity

The internet, as a medium, has been available to the public for over twenty years. During this time, it has evolved from a technological novelty that shared various content with enthusiasts, through a medium for recipients looking for content existing outside the mainstream, to the centre of mainstream content. As a result of developments in technology, digital content transmitted remotely has not only reached computers, but also telephones, TV-sets, music players and even watches. Both lovers of "classic" media that provides content to the recipient in the form of copies - books, music or movies - as well as seekers and creators of new forms of cultural expression (e.g. computer game players or bloggers), successfully use modern technologies for their purposes.

Several cultural activities via the internet are included in the questionnaire of the annual ICT survey, such as ’Reading online news sites, newspapers and news magazines’, ’Watching streamed TV or videos’, ’Listening to music (web radio, music streaming) or downloading music’ and ’Playing or downloading games’.

In the EU as a whole and in the majority of countries, the most popular culture-related uses of the internet were ’Reading online news sites/newspapers/news magazines’ and ’Watching internet streamed TV or videos’. In 2020, 75 % of the EU population aged 16-74 years who had used the internet in the three months prior to the survey, had read online news sites/newspapers/news magazines and 74 % of this population had watched internet-streamed TV or video (see Figure 2 and Table 1). Lower shares were recorded for ’Listening to music or downloading music over the internet’ (61 %) and ’Playing or downloading games’ (34 %).

Figure 2: Use of the internet for selected cultural activities, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 years who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)


Reading online news sites/newspapers/news magazines

In 2020, 75 % of EU internet users (aged 16 to 74 years) read online news sites/newspapers/news magazines and it was the most common cultural activity via the internet in 15 Member States. In Finland, Croatia, Czechia and Estonia, at least 90 % of the population who used the internet during the three months prior to the survey made use of the internet for this purpose. However, this share was less than two thirds in Italy (63 %), France (60 %, 2019 data), Bulgaria (58 %) and particularly in Romania (48 %); see Map 1.

Map 1: Use of the internet for reading online news sites/newspapers/news magazines, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 years who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)

Watching internet-streamed TV channels or videos
With the development of streaming services, a growing number of films, videos, TV programmes and series can be accessed via the internet. In 2020, 74 % of EU internet users watched internet streamed TV or videos (excluding programmes or videos that are downloaded and saved for a later date). Eighteen Member States (no data available for France) recorded at least an equal percentage to the EU average for this type of cultural participation. In the European Union, there was a relatively wide range of the use made of the internet for this purpose: in Cyprus and the Netherlands some 95 % of internet users watched streamed TV or videos. However, the share was below 50 % in Bulgaria (44 %) and Romania (37 %); see Map 2.

Map 2: Use of the internet for watching internet streamed TV channels or videos, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 years who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)

Listening to music
In 2020, 61 % of EU internet users (aged 16 to 74 years) listened to music (e.g. via web radio or music streaming) or downloaded it via the internet. A percentage higher than the EU average was recorded for 13 Member States (no data available for France), with Denmark and Finland having the highest proportion (both 77 %), while 12 countries had results below the average – with less than 50 % observed in Romania (44 %); see Map 3.

Map 3: Use of the internet for listening to music (for example, web radio, music streaming) or downloading music, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 years who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)

Playing or downloading games
Playing and downloading games refers to playing games online or after downloading them (using a games console or a smart TV). Across the EU, in 2020, some 34 % of internet users (aged 16 to 74 years) participated in this cultural activity. A relatively high share of internet users in the Netherlands (56 %), Denmark, Malta (both 47 %) and Sweden (46 %) made use of the internet for playing or downloading games, while the lowest proportions were recorded in Lithuania (23 %), Slovakia (22 %), Poland (19 %), and Bulgaria (16 %); see Map 4.

Map 4: Use of the internet for playing or downloading games, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 years who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)



Differences in cultural activities by age group
According to the latest available data, and not including reading online news sites, newspapers and news magazines, young people (aged 16 to 24 years) in the EU were more likely than average to make use of the internet for a wide range of cultural purposes (see Table 1). Around 91 % of internet users in this age group watched streamed TV or videos (compared with 74 % of the whole target population and 58 % of internet users aged 55 to 74 years), 87 % listened to or downloaded music online (compared with 61 % and 37 % respectively), while 62 % played or downloaded games (compared with 34 % and 20 % respectively).

Table 1: Use of the internet for cultural purposes, by age, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)

In the EU as a whole, the percentage of internet users reading news online was similar for young and older people (71 % for 16-24 years-old and 70 % for those aged 55-74); however, in both age groups, the values were lower than the EU average recorded for all individuals (75 %). In 11 Member States, in particular in Malta, France (2019 data), Portugal, Austria and Denmark, young people read news online more than the older generations. However, in some countries people aged 55-74 did this more frequently than young people, most notably in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Greece and Sweden.

The share of young internet users who watched streamed TV or videos in 2020 was greater than 90 % in more than half of the EU Member States. It peaked in the Netherlands (100 %), but Denmark, Croatia, Cyprus and Malta recorded similar values (all 99 %). In contrast, less than two thirds of young internet users in Bulgaria (62 %) and Romania (55 %) made such use of the internet. In the 55-74 age group, video streaming via the internet in the EU was reported by 58 % of internet users, with the highest proportions recorded in the Netherlands and Cyprus (both 86 %), and Finland (84 %). In Bulgaria and Romania, these percentages were below 30 %.

In 2020, at least 95 % of the young internet users in Denmark, Finland, Malta, Spain and Portugal listened to or downloaded music online. In the vast majority of EU countries, the percentage of young people listening to or downloading music streaming over the internet was at least 75 %, with the only exception in Romania (66 %). Conversely, internet music listeners or downloaders aged 55-74 accounted for much lower percentages; in only eight Member States was the share over 50 %.

Young internet users were also more likely to play or download games than older people. In 2020, at least seven out of ten of all young internet users in Cyprus, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Greece and Spain played or downloaded games. This percentage fell below 50 % in five EU Member States – Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Among older internet users, ’Playing or downloading games’ saw the highest share in the Netherlands, where it reached 43 %, while in Malta and Denmark it exceeded 25 %. This kind of activity had the lowest proportion among older people in Bulgaria - only 5 % of internet users aged 55 to 74 years old in this country played or downloaded games in 2020.


Analysis by other socioeconomic characteristics

Participation in culture online can be analysed in more detail, according to the different socioeconomic characteristics of internet users, for example, by level of educational attainment, by level of household income, by degree of urbanisation or by employment status (see Table 2).

Table 2: Use of the internet for cultural purposes, by socioeconomic characteristic, EU, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)

An analysis by level of educational attainment indicates that internet users with a tertiary level of education were generally more likely to make use of the internet for cultural purposes than people who have not achieved this level of education. This was most notably the case for reading online news sites, newspapers and news magazines: in 2020, 86 % of EU internet users with a tertiary level of education made use of the internet for this purpose compared with 60 % among internet users with at most a lower secondary level of education. Of the four cultural activities shown in Table 2, there was one exception: a higher share of internet users with at most a lower secondary level of education (42 %) made use of the internet for playing or downloading games, compared with 33 % observed for internet users with an upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level and 31 % for internet users with a tertiary level of education.

A similar pattern was observed when analysing the use made of the internet for cultural purposes according to household income. EU internet users in the fourth income quartile made greater use of the internet than internet users with lower incomes when reading the news, streaming TV or videos, or listening to or downloading music. By contrast, the share of internet users playing or downloading games was relatively similar across all four income quartiles.

Internet users living in cities were more inclined to make use of the internet for cultural purposes than internet users living in towns and suburbs or rural areas. This pattern held for all four cultural activities presented in Table 2.

As already seen above, young people were generally more likely (than older people) to use the internet for cultural purposes. As such, it is not surprising to find that a relatively high share of student internet users in the EU made use of the internet to watch streamed TV or videos (92 %), to listen to or download music (89 %), or to play or download games (62 %).

The share of unemployed internet users who made use of the internet to play or download games was higher (at 39 %) than the average recorded for all internet users (34 %).

Men are more likely than women to make use of the internet for cultural purposes

Men were more likely than women to make use of the internet for cultural purposes: at EU level and in the majority of countries, this pattern was confirmed for all four cultural purposes that are presented in Table 3.

Table 3: Use of the internet for cultural purposes, by sex, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 years who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)

Across the EU, for ’Watching internet streamed TV or videos’ the proportion of men using the internet for this purpose was 5 percentage points higher than that recorded for women, ’Listening to music or downloading music’ was 6 percentage points higher and for ’Playing or downloading games’ the difference was 7 p.p.. The smallest difference between the sexes was recorded for ’Reading online news sites, newspapers and news magazines’, where the share for men was 3 percentage points higher than that for women.

In 2020, the percentage of female internet users who used the internet for reading online news, newspapers and new magazines was slightly higher than the percentage observed for men in Lithuania, Slovenia, Estonia and Malta, while in Finland and Sweden the shares were equal; all of the remaining EU Member States recorded a higher proportion of male internet users reading online news. The share of male internet users watching streamed TV or videos and listening to or downloading music was systematically (in all EU Member States) higher than the corresponding share for female internet users. The largest gender gaps in favour of men were recorded for playing or downloading games, as seven Member States recorded differences between the sexes that were at least 10 percentage points, with the largest gap observed in Czechia (15 p.p.). However, an equal proportion of male and female internet users was observed for this last mentioned category of cultural participation in Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands.

Playing or downloading games is more popular among people with a lower level of education

Figure 3 shows data on the use of the internet for different cultural purposes with the breakdown by educational attainment level.

Figure 3: Use of the internet for cultural purposes, by level of educational attainment, 2020
(% among people aged 16-74 years who used the internet in the previous three months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_ac_i)

There is a clear relationship between educational attainment and use of the internet for reading online news, newspapers and news magazines. While 86 % of EU internet users with a tertiary level of educational attainment used the internet in 2020 to read online news, this figure was 60 % among internet users with no more than a lower secondary level of educational attainment. In 17 of the 27 EU Member States, at least 90 % of internet users with a tertiary level of education made use of the internet to read online news; the highest share was recorded for Greece (98 %). By contrast, there were four Member States where the share of internet users with no more than a lower secondary level of education who made use of the internet to read online news was below 50 %; the lowest number was recorded in Bulgaria (30 %). The share of internet users making use of the internet to read online news was systematically higher for people with a tertiary level of education than it was for people with no more than a lower secondary level. The largest gaps between these two categories were recorded in Bulgaria (41 p.p.) and Romania (36 p.p.). At the other end of the scale, Finland (9 p.p.) was the only Member State to record a gap in single-digits.

In 2020, 82 % of EU internet users with a higher level of education watched streamed TV and videos, compared with 70 % for those who had no more than a lower secondary level of education. This pattern was repeated for the majority of EU Member States, although internet users with no more than a lower secondary level of education in the Baltic Member States and Poland were more likely (than people with a tertiary level) to use the internet for watching streamed TV or videos. In nine of the 27 Member States, at least 90 % of internet users with a tertiary level of education made use of the internet to watch streamed TV or videos; the highest shares were recorded for Cyprus (99 %), Malta and the Netherlands (both 97 %) and Finland (96 %). By contrast, there were four Member States where the percentage of internet users with no more than a lower secondary level of education who made use of the internet to watch streamed TV or videos was below 50 %; the lowest shares were recorded for Bulgaria (35 %) and Romania (29 %).

More than half of all EU internet users made use of the internet to listen to music (for example, web radio or music streaming services) or download music: 69 % of internet users with a higher level of education and 58 % of internet users with no more than a lower secondary level. In eight Member States, the proportion of internet users with no more than a lower secondary level of education that listened to or downloaded music online was higher than the corresponding proportion among internet users with a tertiary level of education - this was most notably the case in Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Estonia and Lithuania where the difference between the share of internet users with no more than a lower secondary level and those with a tertiary level of education was 10-15 percentage points lower. The highest shares of internet users listening to or downloading music online among people with no more than a lower secondary level of educational attainment were recorded in Estonia (77 %), Czechia and Finland (both 76 %); by contrast, the highest shares among internet users with a tertiary level of educational attainment were recorded in Malta (86 %), Denmark and Greece (both 83 %) and Portugal (82 %).

The final part of Figure 3 shows that internet users were generally less likely to use the internet for playing or downloading games than for other cultural purposes, but this is not the only significant difference from other types of online cultural participation described above. In 2020, the highest share of internet users playing or downloading games was among those with no more than a lower secondary level of education — 42 %, compared with 31 % of those who reached a tertiary level of education and 34 % of all internet users. More than half the internet users with no more than a lower secondary level of education playing or downloading games were recorded in Czechia (52 %), Lithuania and Finland (both 53 %), Denmark (55 %), Germany (58 %) and the Netherlands (62 %). It is worth noting that the Netherlands was the only EU Member State where 'Playing and downloading computer games' was popular among more than half of internet users with a tertiary level of education (52 %). There were only two Member States where the share of internet users playing or downloading games was higher among people with a tertiary level of educational attainment: Portugal and Greece. The share of internet users with no more than a lower secondary level of education who played or downloaded games was at least 30 percentage points higher (than for internet users with a tertiary level) in Lithuania, Czechia and Poland.

Use of the internet to purchase cultural goods and services

Use of the internet for purchasing cultural goods and services

Digital media have a significant, wide-ranging and complex impact on society and culture. Obviously, the development of readily available devices processing digital content (tablets, smartphones), and the development of infrastructure, have significantly influenced preferences regarding online cultural participation. Paid cultural content (books, films or music) can be accessed nowadays online in many ways - by purchasing a single copy (digital or physical) or as part of a subscription (which is time-limited paid access to resources provided by the operator), etc.

Noting this rapid boom in the way digital content is delivered to the recipient, the questions in the ICT survey now distinguish between digital media and physical media.

An alternative way of analysing cultural participation through ICTs is by presenting data on e-commerce - the share of people who make use of the internet to purchase cultural goods and services, including:

  • printed books, magazines or newspapers;
  • e-books, online-magazines or online-newspapers;
  • films or series as DVDs, Blu-ray etc.;
  • films or series as a streaming service or downloads;
  • music as CDs, vinyls etc.;
  • music as a streaming service or downloads;
  • games online or as downloads for various kind of devices;
  • tickets to cultural or other events.

The data shown below refer to the proportion of internet users aged 16 to 74 years who used internet within the last year and made purchases of cultural goods and services during the 3 months prior to the survey.

In 2020, among the cultural goods and services available online, internet users in the European Union most often purchased access to watch movies or TV series (available as a streaming services or downloads), with 19 % of individuals who used internet within the last year, and the least frequently purchased was physical media with music recordings (4 %). Purchasing streamed or downloadable films/TV series or music were chosen by internet users almost four times more often than purchasing it on physical media. However, a different pattern was observed for purchasing books: 16 % of internet users in the EU purchased printed books, magazines or newspapers, while e-books, online magazines or online newspapers were chosen only by 8 % (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Use of the internet for purchasing cultural goods and services, EU, 2020
(% of internet users who bought or ordered goods or services over the internet in the previous 3 months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_ibgs)

E-commerce of cultural content on physical media significant only for printed books

In 2020, for 13 of the EU Member States, films or series as a streaming service or downloads were the most frequent ways of purchasing cultural items online (see figure 5). At least 20 % of internet users in nine out of 26 EU Member States (2020 data for France are not available) purchased access to films or TV series streaming services or downloads in the three months preceding the survey. Paid access to these services was the most popular in Denmark and the Netherlands (both 49 %) and Sweden (38 %). Access for streaming services and downloads for films and TV series was purchased less by internet users in Romania (5 %), Greece (4 %), and Bulgaria (2 %).

Printed books, magazines or newspapers were the most frequently purchased online cultural goods in nine countries of the European Union. In seven Member States, at least 20 % of internet users bought a product from this category online in the three months preceding the survey. Most often, printed books, magazines or newspapers were bought online by internet users in Germany (30 %), the Netherlands (25 %), Luxembourg and Malta (both 22 %). Buying online printed books, magazines or newspapers was least popular (less than 5 %) in Latvia, Romania, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

'Tickets to cultural or other events' was the most frequently purchased cultural item in seven EU Member States. At least 20 % of internet users purchased products from this category in Denmark (38 %), the Netherlands (34 %), Germany (24 %) and Sweden (22 %). The EU countries which purchased products in this category the least online were Italy, Croatia, Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania (they were purchased by less than 5 % of internet users).

During the three months preceding the survey, items from the category 'Music as a streaming service or downloads' were purchased by at least 20 % of internet users in four EU countries - the Netherlands (38 %), Denmark and Sweden (both 36%) and Germany (26 %). Products in this category were purchased online by less than 5 % of internet users in Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus (2019 data).

Regarding the 'Games online or as downloads for various kind of devices' category, it was the most popular category among other cultural items purchased online in Croatia, while only in Denmark more than 20 % of internet users purchased online access to such kinds of services (23 %). Purchasing of 'games online or downloads for various kind of devices' was recorded at less than 5 % for internet users in Lithuania, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria.

In 2020, in only four European Union countries were physical media with films or TV series purchased by more than 5 % of Internet users, while for physical media with music this percentage was more in three EU Member States.

Figure 5: Use of the internet for purchasing cultural goods and services, 2020
(% of internet users who bought or ordered goods or services over the internet in the previous 3 months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_ibgs)

As already noted, in 2020, among cultural items which were asked about in the survey and which can be purchased online - books, magazines or newspapers, films and TV series and music - only books, magazines or newspapers were bought by internet users more often, in a classic, printed form than in electronic form. This pattern was repeated in almost all of the EU Member States and it was the highest in Greece, where internet users purchased online printed books or press seven times more often than e-books, followed by Malta, Italy and Portugal. Finland was the only country in the European Union where online sales of digital copies of books and press were slightly higher than sales online of printed books and press, while in Bulgaria and Latvia they were at the same level (see Table 4).

In 2020, films or series as a streaming service or downloads were purchased by internet users in the European Union four times more often than films or series available as DVDs, Blu-ray etc. The trend in which the purchase of access to digital content was preferred by internet users more than physical media was seen in all European Union countries for which data are available (2020 data not available for France). In Spain, 17 % of internet users purchased films or series as a streaming service or downloads, while, at the same time, only 1 % purchased films or series as physical copies. Digital access to films or series was purchased online clearly more often than their physical copies in Portugal (15 times) and the Netherlands (ten times). The smallest, although significant, differences between the online purchase of 'Films or series a streaming service or downloads' and 'Films or series as DVDs, Blu-ray etc.' were recorded for Germany, Bulgaria and Malta.

In 2020, among the EU, 'Music as a streaming service or downloads' was four times more often purchased by internet users than music on physical media - as CDs, vinyl records, etc. This pattern was repeated in all countries for which reliable data are available. Purchase of access to music content was 18 times more common than the online purchase of physical media with music in Sweden, 12 times - in Denmark and eight times - in the Netherlands. The smallest, although significant, difference between the online purchase of music as streaming service or downloads and music as CDs, vinyls etc. was recorded for Bulgaria, Greece and Malta.

Table 4: Use of the internet for purchasing cultural goods and services, 2020
(% of internet users who bought or ordered goods or services over the internet in the previous 3 months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_ibgs)


Socioeconomic characteristics of internet users purchasing cultural goods and services

Purchases of cultural goods and services can be analysed according to the socioeconomic characteristics of internet users (see Table 5).

Table 5: Use of the internet for purchasing cultural goods and services, by socioeconomic characteristic, EU, 2020
(% of internet users who bought or ordered goods or services over the internet in the previous 3 months)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_ibgs)

In 2020, EU internet users aged 16-24 were more likely (than people in other age groups) to make online purchases of 'Films or series as a streaming service or downloads' (27 %), 'Music as a streaming service or downloads' (24 %) and 'Games online or as downloads for various kind of devices' (18 %). Internet users aged 25 to 54 years were more likely (than people in other age groups) to make online purchases of 'Printed books, magazines or newspapers' (18 %), 'Tickets to cultural or other events' (16 %), 'E-books, online-magazines or online-newspapers' (10 %) and films or TV series and music on physical media (6 % and 5 % respectively). Internet users aged 55-74 made purchases of cultural content via the Internet less often than people in other age groups. This difference was clearly visible in the case of purchasing access to digital content: only 3 % of internet users aged 55 -74 purchased online access to films, TV series, music, as well as games.

Female internet users in the EU were more likely (than male internet users) to make online purchases of books, magazines and newspapers - both in printed (18 % compared with 14 %) and in digital form (9 % compared with 8 %). The interest in purchasing tickets for events remained at the same level for men and women (14 %). Men more often bought online films, TV series, music (both, in physical media and digital access) and games. For games, this difference was the largest (8 percentage points, 14 % for men compared with 6 % for women).

When looking at internet users who bought cultural goods and services online, it is worth noting how the level of educational attainment influenced this activity. While there were relatively small differences between internet users preferences distinguished by age group or sex, there was a starker contrast when the results by level of educational attainment were analysed. In 2020, the share of EU internet users with a tertiary level of education that made online purchases of films or series and music as a streaming service or downloads, or tickets to cultural or other events, was at least twice as high as the share recorded among people with no more than a lower secondary level of education. This difference was four times higher in the case of online purchases of e-books, online-magazines or online-newspapers. For all the categories, the highest percentage of people who purchased cultural content online were among internet users with tertiary education. At least one-fifth of internet users with tertiary educational attainment bought online 'Music as a streaming service or downloads' (20 %), 'Tickets to cultural or other events' (21 %), 'Printed books, magazines or newspapers' (25 %), 'Films or series as a streaming service or downloads' (26 %). Only the online purchase of access to games remained at a similar level (around 10 %) among internet users with different levels of educational attainment.

Household income has a considerable impact on the likelihood of people to make online purchases of cultural goods and services. Internet users from the fourth quartile of household income (households with the highest income) were more likely to buy cultural goods and services over the internet than internet users from the first quartile of household income. This difference was more than double for 'Music as a streaming service or downloads' (23 % compared with 11 %), 'Tickets to cultural or other events' (21 % compared with 10 %), and 'E-books, online-magazines or online-newspapers' (13 % compared with 6 %). The smallest difference was found among internet users who bought 'Games online or as downloads for various kind of devices' (13 % compared with 9 %), and among internet users buying online physical media with films and music (6 % compared with 5 %, and 5 % compared with 4 % respectively).

In 2020, EU internet users living in cities were more likely than internet users living in rural areas to make online purchases for all the types of analysed cultural goods and services. The largest difference was recorded for online purchases of 'Films or series as a streaming service or downloads' (22 % of internet users living in cities made such purchases, compared with 14 % among those living in rural areas), and for 'Online purchases of tickets to cultural or other events' (17 % of internet users living in cities made such purchases, compared with 9 % among those living in rural areas). The smallest difference was recorded for online purchases of 'Physical media with films, TV series and music' (5 % of internet users living in cities made such purchases, compared with 4 % among those living in rural areas).

Concerning internet users’ breakdown by employment status, employed people and students made more online purchases of cultural goods and services than unemployed people or those who were otherwise economically inactive. In 2020 employed persons most often purchased online 'Printed books, magazines or newspapers' (19 %), 'Tickets to cultural or other events' (17 %), 'E-books, online-magazines or online-newspapers' (10 %), and physical media with movies and music (6 % and 5 % respectively). Students most often purchased digital access to films, TV series and music (26 % and 22 % respectively), as well as 'Games online or as downloads for various kind of devices' (17 %).


Data sources

All of the data in this article are derived from the Community survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals. The survey is conducted 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.

The aim of the ICT survey is to provide relevant statistics on areas such as: access to and use of ICTs, use of the internet, ICT security and trust, ICT competences and skills. The data are available according to numerous breakdown variables including by age, by sex, and by level of educational attainment. The target population covers persons aged 16 to 74 years living in private households.


Context

Culture is one of Europe’s greatest assets: it is a source of values, identity and a sense of belonging; it also contributes towards well-being, social cohesion and inclusion. The cultural and creative sectors may also provide a stimulus for economic growth, job creation and international trade.

That is why culture is becoming increasingly important within the EU. In accordance with Article 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) and the Work Plan for Culture (2019-2022). The latter, adopted by EU culture ministers in November 2018, sets out the main priorities for European cooperation in cultural policymaking: sustainability in cultural heritage; cohesion and well-being; an ecosystem supporting artists, cultural and creative professionals and European content; gender equality; and international cultural relations.

The production of reliable, comparable and up-to-date cultural statistics, which provide a basis for sound cultural policymaking, is a cross-sectorial priority in the latest work plan. Eurostat compiles culture statistics from several different data collections to provide policymakers and other users with information on the main developments in the field of culture, covering issues such as education, employment, business, international trade, expenditure, participation and consumption patterns.

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Culture (cult)
Cultural participation and expenditure (cult_pcs)
Use of ICT for cultural purposes (cult_pcs_ict)
Individuals - internet activities (isoc_ci_ac_i)
Internet purchases - goods or services (2020 onwards) (isoc_ec_ibgs)
Internet purchases by individuals (until 2019) (isoc_ec_ibuy)
Individuals - use of cloud services (isoc_cimcci_use)
Purpose of mobile internet use (isoc_cimobi_purp)