Culture statistics - use of ICT for cultural purposes
Data extracted in July 2018.
Planned article update: August 2019.
Use of internet for purchasing films or music, 2017
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.
Households with internet access
New forms of online cultural participation have emerged with the development of digital technologies and the spread of internet. In 2017, 87 % of households in the EU had internet access, regardless of the type of connection. This share increased by 11 percentage points since 2012 (76 %) (see Figure 1).
At country level, the largest shares of households with internet access was registered in the Netherlands (98 %). Six other Member States presented shares of internet connected households above 90 %: Denmark and Luxembourg (97 % each), Sweden (95 %), Finland and the United Kingdom (94 % each) and Germany (93 %).
On the other hand, the lowest proportions were registered in Bulgaria (67 %) and Greece (71 %) followed by Lithuania (75 %), Croatia and Romania (76 % each). The mentioned countries plus Portugal all showed a 2-digit difference in comparison with the EU average. Nevertheless, this gap has reduced (excepting in Croatia) compared with 2012 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).
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).
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).
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 (physical supports, digital forms, on streaming);
- books, magazines and newspapers (paper versions, digital forms, on-line subscriptions);
- 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 (see Table 5), between 2012 and 2017, the share of individuals who used internet in the last 12 months prior to the survey to buy any good or service grew by 9 percentage points (from 59 % in 2012 to 68 % in 2017). Against this significant increase, the e-commerce of cultural goods and services showed quite moderate growth and noted 4 percentage point increase for tickets for events (from 22 % in 2012 to 26 % in 2017), 2 percentage point increase for films and music (17 % to 19 %) and 1 percentage point for books, magazines and newspapers (22 % to 23 %). In this context it has to be considered the emergence of streaming, sharing and subscription platforms for music or motion picture allowing large and often free access to this type of content.
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 2017, the share of e-shoppers for the three categories of cultural goods or services was consistently above the EU average in Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The lowest percentages of internet users (not exceeding 5 %) in buying the three cultural categories were found in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. 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.
Remarkable shares of internet users buying books and newspaper in 2017 were noticed in Luxembourg (57 %), Germany (38 %), the United Kingdom (36 %) and the Netherlands (35 %), in contrast with 2 % in Bulgaria and 3 % in Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. As for the dynamic of purchasing trends in books and newspapers between 2012 and 2017 at country level (see Table 5), the share of internet users buying these articles increased at a moderate pace, with the highest growth noted in Luxembourg (+11 percentage points). Eleven countries saw the shares of books and newspapers e-shoppers contracting, notably Croatia (-6 percentage points) and Cyprus, Slovenia and Slovakia (-4 percentage points each).
In 2017, half of internet users in Sweden, 44 % in Luxembourg and 43 % in the United Kingdom ordered films and music via internet. Sweden and Luxembourg knew also the highest increase of internet users commanding music and film online between 2012 and 2017 (21 and 10 percentage points respectively). A significant growth recorded also Denmark and Estonia (9 and 8 percentage points respectively). Seven countries saw their shares of buyers of films and music via internet slightly contracting (-1 to -2 percentage points). In the remaining EU countries the shares of internet users buying films or music stagnated or grew by not more than 5 percentage points. Among non EU Member States, EFTA countries recorded relevant percentages of internet users buying films or music in 2017, notably in Iceland (50 %).
Among three cultural categories, using internet for buying tickets for events seems to be the most widespread. In 2017, in six countries over 40 % of internet users purchased the tickets for events online (Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Finland and the United Kingdom). In nine others, the shares ranged between 20 % and 40 %. The dynamic of online purchases of this cultural category was also higher than for two other cultural items and grew over the period 2012 and 2017 in nearly all EU Member States. The biggest progression in terms of percentage points was recorded in Estonia (+23 percentage points), the Netherlands (+21 percentage points), the Czech Republic (+13 percentage points) and Spain (+11 percentage points). EFTA countries recorded high percentages of internet users in 2017, notably Iceland (52 %).
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 2017 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 (23 % against 19 % on average) which reflects the importance of this kind of entertainment among young people. 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 slightly 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. The shares of higher educated people ordering cultural goods were multiplied by at least factor 3 when compared to the shares of internet users with lower educational attainment. Compared to 2012, the gap in purchasing patterns between persons with higher and lower educational attainment levels even widened as the share of the latters decreased in buying books, magazines, newspapers, films or music and stagnated in buying tickets for events.
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.
Looking at the trends by working status, once again the internet users who are students (young people) buy less books, newspapers and tickets for events than employed internet users. However, they are slightly more than employed internet users in buying films or music, which shows how important music is for this age category.
In addition, unemployment seems to put internet buyers in an unfavorable position. For the three cultural categories, in 2017, the shares of unemployed internet users buying cultural goods were twice as less as those observed among employed users.
E-commerce by downloading from websites or apps
In recent years, cultural goods are undergoing a massive transformation from being physical products to becoming electronic versions that can be delivered over the internet in digitised form as computer files (and possibly stored on physical media or printed). This is the case of:
- e-films/music - films /music online in a form of files (e.g. a video file or an MP3 file) or online streaming (watching paid movies online);
- e-books - publications made in digital form as files that are readable via desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones or other dedicated electronic devices (e-readers);
- e-magazines, e-newspapers - online magazines and newspapers.
In 2017, in the EU as a whole, films/music delivered or upgraded online accounted as the most purchased e-cultural product — ordered by 74 % of people buying e-cultural goods or services, followed by e-books (42 %) and e-magazines/e-newspapers (21 %) — see Figure 6.
There were considerable variations between EU Member States with respect to the popularity of downloading and predominance of different e-cultural products in downloading. Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Denmark and the United Kingdom recorded the highest percentage of film or music delivered or upgraded online in 2017 (between 80 % and 90 %). At the other end of the range there was Portugal with the share of only 33 %.
In majority of countries, e-books ranked second in online purchasing excepting in Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Portugal. For instance, in Poland they were 67 of buyers of e-cultural products opting for e-books against 50 % opting for films and music. In six other EU countries (Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia) e-books accounted for the same share as films/music delivered or upgraded online.
Finally, Spain, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia noted relatively high level of persons going for paid e-magazines and e-newspapers among purchasers of e-cultural products (from 40 to 50 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
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.
- 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)
Related metadata files:
- Cultural participation and expenditure (ESMS metadata file)
- ICT usage in households and by individuals (ESMS metadata file)
Further methodological information: