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Internet Content


If you’ve gone online, you’ve accessed Internet content—whether it’s text, video, audio, animation, or images; a video game; a service-providing Web site (such as a dating site); or paid advertising. The Internet content industry creates, publishes, aggregates, and curates this content. Its goal is to provide people with entertainment and information, while earning revenue. Internet content is big business, and annual revenues for top companies exceed $1 billion.

Content has been available online ever since the early days of the Internet. Mosaic, the first Internet browser, was created in 1993. Mosaic made it much easier to access, retrieve, and display resources on the Internet. Today, the amount of content available on the Internet is mind-boggling, and many people are willing to pay to access or download online digital content. The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reports that 65 percent of Internet users paid to access or download online digital content in 2010. In 2019, the Reuters Institute reported that the number of people paying for online news had been relatively unchanged in recent years, with most online users opting for free content.

Internet content providers include:

  • Traditional media companies that offer resources on the Internet (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, book publishers, music companies)
  • New media companies (e.g., Apple, Netflix, Rhapsody International) that provide content produced by other companies or individuals
  • Web syndicators (in which syndicates partner with content producers to help them distribute their work)
  • Aggregators (companies that collect content from various online and offline sources)
  • Curators (companies or individuals that continually search the Web to find the best information about a particular topic)
  • Content farms (companies that employ many freelancers to create large amounts of content quickly)
  • Individuals who create their own content (blogs, books, apps, music, podcasts, online games, Web comics, and social-networking content) for publication on the Web

Internet content providers earn revenue in two ways. Some offer free content, and earn revenue by selling advertisements at their sites. Others charge for their content. For example, they might charge a fee to download a book or article, require a paid subscription to download or stream audio or movies, or create paywalls, which ensure that all or a portion of the content is accessed only by those who pay a fee. These providers also may sell advertising at their sites.

No information is available regarding the number of people employed in the Internet content industry. Online content is produced by large companies, small companies, and individuals. As the number of people with broadband access increases and more people use mobile devices to access content, demand for content will increase, which should translate into more jobs. There are many rewarding careers in the industry, especially in writing and editing, search-engine marketing, advertising, software design (including applications), information security, electronic payment processing, and web analytics.

Internet content companies are located throughout the United States, although many can be found in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

There is strong demand for Internet content—especially as technology makes it easier to access films, music, television shows, and other content online. This demand translates into an excellent employment outlook for the Internet content industry.