Culture statistics - use of ICT for cultural purposes
Data extracted in June 2019.
Planned article update: August 2020.
Use of internet for watching internet streamed TV or videos, by sex, 2018 (% of individuals who used internet in the last 3 months)
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 the internet. In 2018, 89 % of households in the EU had internet access, regardless of the type of connection. This share increased by ten percentage points since 2013 (79 %) (see Figure 1).
At country level, the Netherlands registered the largest shares of households with internet access (98 %). Six other Member States presented an internet connected households rate above 90 %: the United Kingdom (95 %), Germany and Finland (94 % each), Denmark and Luxembourg (93 % each) and Sweden (92 %).
On the other hand, the lowest proportions were registered in Bulgaria (72 %) and Greece (76 %) followed by Lithuania (78 %) and Portugal (79 %). These countries all showed a 2-digit difference in comparison with the EU average. Nevertheless, this gap has notably narrowed compared with 2013.
Use of the internet for cultural purposes
Main patterns by cultural activity
Reading online news sites/newspapers/news magazines
According to the 2017 data, reading online news sites and newspapers was particularly popular among internet users in Lithuania, Czechia, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Greece and Denmark - more than 85 % of individuals who used the internet in the last 3 months reported it. On the other hand, only 56 % of internet users in Italy, 61 % in France and 64 % in Belgium read news online (See Table 1).
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 continuously adapt their offer and propose their content to be viewed on the internet in time-delayed form. In 2018, 72 % of internet users in the EU declared watching internet streamed TV or videos from various platforms and sharing services. It should be noted that downloading is not included in this variable. An important discrepancy between countries with the highest shares of this practice (at least 85 %) and countries with the lowest shares (less than 50 %) can be observed. The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Croatia were in the group with the highest percentages and Bulgaria, Slovakia and Romania had the lowest shares (see Table 1).
Listening to music (e.g. web radio, music streaming)
Like films and videos, music and radio broadcasting are also available via internet. In the EU in 2018, 56 % of internet users listened to music via web radio or on streaming (downloading excluded). In Finland, Sweden and Greece at least 70 % of internet users employed internet for this specific activity compared with 43 % in Belgium, 47 % in Latvia and 48 % in Bulgaria and Germany (see Table 1).
Playing or downloading games
Playing and downloading games refers to playing games online or after downloading them (using a game console or a smart TV if connected to the internet). In the EU, 33 % of internet users were keen on this activity in 2018. This practice was frequent (reported by at least 40 % of internet users) in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary and Finland. The lowest rates of internet users playing games online or after downloading were found in Austria (21 %), Bulgaria (22 %) and Poland (23 %) (see Table 1).
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 urbanisation, country of birth or working status (see Table 2).
In general, in the EU, in 2018 (in 2017 for reading online news and newspapers), relatively more men than women used the internet for cultural purposes. This pattern was confirmed for all four cultural activities analysed.
The online participation rates were also significantly higher in the youngest age group 16–24 compared to older age groups 25–54 and 55–74, except for reading online news and newspapers (this activity found most users among persons in median age group 25–54).
The participation rate among internet users with a higher educational attainment level outnumbered the participation rates in other educational groups for all cultural purposes, except playing and downloading games, which attracted relatively more people with lower educational attainment. The highest participation was also correlated with the highest income level for all practices excepting playing or downloading games, which gathered comparable shares of internet users across all income quartiles.
The variable ‘degree of urbanisation’ compares internet users living in cities, towns and suburbs and rural areas. The share of internet users watching internet streamed TV or videos and listening to music increased according to density level of area, with the highest shares found in cities. Reading online news and newspapers is still highest in cities and lower, but at a comparable level, in rural areas, towns and suburbs. By contrast, internet users living in rural areas play online games less than inhabitants of towns, suburbs and cities.
The picture is diverse as concerns the remaining breakdown variables like 'country of birth' and 'employment status'. In 2018, a slightly higher share of native-born internet users read online news and played or downloaded online games. On the other hand, the share of foreign-born internet users watching internet streamed TV or videos and listening to music was higher than the share of native-born users.
As for the 'working status', it is not surprising to find the highest online participation rates among internet users who are students and then among employed against unemployed or inactive persons. When comparing employed with unemployed, higher participation rate was found among employed internet users reading online news, watching streamed TV and videos and listening to music, while unemployed internet users were more inclined to play or download games.
Internet user young or old - everybody reads news online
At EU-level, the percentage of internet users reading online news varied slightly with age. In 2017, 72 % of internet users (aged 16–74) read online newspapers (see Table 1). The percentage was 70 % among internet users aged 16–24 and 67 % among those aged 55–74. In Austria, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Denmark and France the difference between these two age groups was clearly in favour of young internet users. The opposite situation was observed in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Greece, with significantly higher shares of older internet users reading online newspapers.
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). 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 (56 percentage points), followed by playing or downloading games (38 percentage points) and watching internet streamed TV or videos (36 percentage points).
Regarding the level of popularity of these three types of cultural activities and by age, the internet as a dissemination platform was used especially for watching internet streamed TV and videos. In the EU, 72 % of individuals who used the 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 17 countries (above 90 %) with notably 99 % of young people using the internet for this purpose in Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland. There were only four countries with the percentage of young internet users watching TV and videos via internet below 80 %: Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovakia.
While the average rate of persons in the EU aged 16–74 using the internet for listening to music was 56 %, it was 86 % for young internet users aged 16–24 and 30 % for internet users aged 55–74. In Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Sweden almost the entire young age group listened to music via internet (97 % in Denmark and 96 % in the three other countries). The highest shares for this activity among internet users aged 55–74 were observed in Finland, Greece, Malta and Sweden (between 46 % and 54 %). The internet as a platform for accessing music was least popular in the older age group in Czechia (19 %) and Belgium (21 %).
Playing and downloading games reached 33 % of all internet users in the EU, with 58 % of game players among young internet users and 20 % among older ones. The share of young gamers was particularly high (above 65 %) in Belgium, Czechia, Cyprus, Portugal, Greece and Hungary. In the 55–74 age group, the percentage of internet users playing or downloading games was the highest in the Netherlands, Denmark, Malta and Belgium (between 25 % and 34 %), but accounted for around 10 % or even less in Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Bulgaria.
More men than women interested in entertainment activities via internet
Men seem to be more interested than women in cultural and entertainment activities via internet (see Table 3). There is a moderate relative difference in favour of men — between four and seven percentage points at EU level — in using the internet for such cultural purposes as reading newspapers, watching TV, listening to music and playing games. This trend is confirmed at country level with few exceptions. In 2017, the share of women using the internet for reading online news, newspapers and magazines was higher than for men in Malta and Hungary, while in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Finland their shares were equal. The only other exception in favour of female internet users is observed in Sweden in playing or downloading games.
The gender gap in favour of men appeared to be quite significant for playing/downloading games, with several countries registering two-digit differences. A gender discrepancy above ten percentage points was found among internet users playing or downloading games in Czechia, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom (see Table 3).
As concerns the remaining cultural categories, the differences between women and men were less contrasted. They exceeded 10 percentage points in favour of men in Estonia, Luxembourg, Hungary and Portugal for watching internet TV and in Germany 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 the 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 significantly higher than for those with a lower level of education in 15 Member States. In Slovenia and Germany, on the other hand, the factor of education does not seem to have any impact and in Romania, Croatia, Finland, Lithuania and Malta it is very limited (around 5 percentage points 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 the internet for reading online news, newspapers and news magazines. Around 85 % of EU internet users with a higher education level used the internet in 2017 to read newspapers and magazines (with 12 countries reporting levels above 90 %). This contrasts with 56 % observed among internet users with lower educational attainment. At country level, the shares of internet users with a lower educational level was systematically below this share among tertiary educated. Only in two countries, Estonia and Finland, did it not exceed a two-digit difference in percentage points.
The pattern was slightly different 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 the majority of the Member States, except Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. The highest rates of top streamers of films and videos (over 90 %) were recorded in Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, while the lowest shares were reported Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.
Listening to music showed more variations, with 11 countries reporting higher shares of users with low educational attainment listening to music via internet. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia presented the most significant differences among those two reference groups (between 13 and 20 percentage points of difference in favour of people with low educational attainment). Sweden, Malta, Greece, Denmark, Finland and Portugal reached the 75 % level of higher educated users listening to music. Only Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden and Poland attained this share among users with lower educational attainment.
Finally, as concerns downloading and playing online games according to educational level, in 2018, 39 % of EU internet users with lower educational attainment played or downloaded games compared with 29 % of EU internet users with higher educational attainment. From a Member State perspective, the percentage of internet users with low educational attainment who played or downloaded games was higher than among higher educated internet users in all EU countries, except in Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom. The biggest gap (between 30 and 40 percentage points) was observed in Czechia, Lithuania and Poland. At least every second internet user with low educational attainment played or downloaded online games in Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania and Hungary.
Higher educated internet users showed the most interest for this entertainment in the Netherlands (43 %) and in Denmark (40 %) and the lowest (below 20 %) in Austria, Bulgaria, Latvia and Poland.
Use of the internet to purchase cultural goods or services
Another way to approach cultural participation is to analyse data on the use of the 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 12 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 2013 and 2018, the share of individuals who used the internet in the last 12 months prior to the survey to buy any good or service grew by eight percentage points (from 61 % in 2013 to 69 % in 2018). Against this increase, the e-commerce of cultural goods and services showed a growth solely for tickets for events, by four percentage points (from 23 % in 2013 to 27 % in 2018). The two other categories of products registered a two percentage point drop (from 24 % to 22 % for books/magazines and newspapers and from 19 % to 17 % for films and music). In this context, the rise of streaming, sharing and subscription platforms for music or motion picture, allowing large and often free access to this type of content, should be considered.
The analysis of e-commerce by country shows that the percentage of internet users buying cultural goods or services varied considerably between EU Member States. As can be observed in Figure 5, in 2018 the share of e-shoppers for the three categories of cultural goods or services was consistently above the EU average in Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The lowest percentages of internet users (not exceeding 10 %) in buying each of the three cultural categories were found in Bulgaria, Croatia, 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 play an important role in clients choices.
Large shares of internet users buying books and newspapers in 2018 were noticed in Sweden (37 %), the Netherlands (36 %) and the United Kingdom (35 %), in contrast with 5 % and less in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia and Romania. As for the purchasing trends in books and newspapers between 2013 and 2018 at country level (see Table 5), the share of internet users buying these articles increased in 11 countries, with the highest growth noted in Estonia (+12 percentage points). Twelve countries saw the shares of books and newspapers e-shoppers contracting, notably Germany (-8 percentage points), Croatia and Austria (-6 percentage points) and the United Kingdom (-5 percentage points). Luxembourg should not be considered in comparison because of an important break in series in 2018. The percentages did not change in the remaining five countries.
In 2018, almost half of internet users in Sweden, 41 % in Denmark and 39 % in the United Kingdom ordered films and music via internet or subscribed to online services offering access to this type of content. Sweden and Denmark had the highest increase of internet users ordering music and films online between 2013 and 2018 (+21 and +10 percentage points respectively). Estonia and Malta also recorded significant growth (+9 and +8 percentage points respectively). Thirteen countries saw the shares of internet users buying films and music contracting. In the remaining 11 EU countries the shares of internet customers of films or music stagnated or grew by less than 5 percentage points.
Among the three cultural categories, using the internet for buying tickets for events was the most widespread in 2018. It outnumbered the percentage of users buying online films and music in all countries and was lower than shares of internet users buying online books/magazines and newspapers only in France, Italy, Poland and Romania. As for the intensity of purchasing tickets for events, between 41 % and 59 % of internet users concluded transactions online in five countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom). In eleven countries, the shares ranged between 20 % and 40 %. The dynamic of online purchases of this cultural category was also higher than for the two other cultural items and grew over the period between 2013 and 2018 in nearly all EU Member States (except in France and Croatia where it decreased and in Bulgaria, Germany, Romania and Slovenia where it kept the same value). The highest progression in terms of percentage points was recorded in Estonia (+25 percentage points), the Netherlands (+17 percentage points), and in Spain and Malta (+14 percentage points each).
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 urbanisation and working status (see Table 6).
In terms of age, the 2018 data showed that persons aged 25–54 were the most numerous (in relative terms) in buying books and magazines/newspapers and tickets for events. It is not surprising since the majority of people in this age group are in employment and have a regular income. The other age groups had comparable shares.
The youngest internet users (16–24 year old) and the median age group (25-54) demarcated strongly from the 55-74 age group in buying films or music (21 % and 20 % for young and middle age against 9 % for 55-74 year olds) and in buying tickets for events (29 % and 30 % against 18 %). It is worth noting that the share of the youngest increased in two categories (buying books and newspapers and tickets for events), while the other two age groups saw their shares in terms of e-commerce decrease in two categories compared to 2013. Notably, the share of 25-54 and 55-74 shrank in buying books and newspapers and in films and music.
As concerns the differences by sex, in 2018, more female internet users bought books, magazines and newspapers, and tickets for events online than men. By contrast, the share of male internet users was higher in buying films or music. The educational attainment level appears to have a strong effect on buying cultural articles or services. The share of higher educated people ordering cultural goods was 4 times higher than the share of internet users with lower educational attainment for buying books/magazines and newspapers and tickets for events, and 3 times higher for buying films and music. Compared with 2013, the gap in purchasing patterns between persons with higher and lower educational attainment levels widened for buying tickets for events due to a quite significant increase in the number of tertiary educated persons choosing the internet for this type of purchase. On the other hand, the shares of online customers of books and newspapers and films and music decreased by 1 to 3 percentage points in all educational groups.
The distribution of income is another variable affecting 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 from the 3rd quartile of income in buying books and newspapers and films and music, and from the 2nd quartile in buying tickets for events. However, compared with the EU average, the first three income groups remained below this level in all three cultural categories.
Regarding the degree of urbanisation, a difference in e-commerce patterns is observed between persons living in rural areas, towns and suburbs and cities in buying books and newspapers and tickets for events; the more populated the area, the higher was share of e-shoppers. The density area seemed to be the least differentiating for users buying films and music, with 16 % buying films and music online in rural areas and 18 % in two other areas. It should be noted that only tickets for events increased the share of internet users involved in online cultural sales in all urbanisation categories.
Looking at the trends by working status, once again student internet users (young people) bought fewer books, newspapers and tickets for events than employed internet users who, unsurprisingly, reached the highest rates.
Unemployment seems to put internet buyers in a most unfavourable position. For the three cultural categories, in 2018, the shares of unemployed internet users buying cultural goods accounted for less than half of the shares observed among employed users.
E-commerce by downloading from websites or apps
In recent years, cultural goods have undergone a massive transformation from being physical products to becoming electronic versions that can be delivered in digitised form as computer files (and possibly stored on physical media or printed). This is the case for:
- 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 counted 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, Czechia, Denmark and the United Kingdom recorded the highest percentage of films or music delivered or upgraded online in 2017 (between 80 % and 90 %). At the other end of the range, Portugal had a share of only 33 %.
In the majority of countries, e-books ranked second in online purchasing excepting in Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Portugal. For instance, in Poland 67 % of buyers of e-cultural products opted for e-books against 50 % opting for films and music. In four 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 levels of persons purchasing 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 a 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 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 Work Plan for Culture (2019–2022). The latest Work Plan adopted by EU Culture Ministers in November 2018, sets out the following main priorities for European cooperation in cultural policy-making: sustainability in cultural heritage, cohesion and well-being, 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 are the basis of sound cultural policy-making, is 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, international 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: