If you’re familiar with our research this year you’ll know about the Media Meltdown. It’s when traditional media business models build around controlling the distribution of inherently scarce content are undermined by the digitization of content. Exacerbated by the recession, it’s wreaking havoc across the media space (in case you hadn’t noticed). Media companies have been very vocal in sharing their pain, while consumers have been feasting on a growing supply of free content online.

But while consumers’ reluctance to pay for online content is widely recognized, it is neither universal nor inevitable. Amid the rubble of the media meltdown, it is possible to detect a glimmer of hope for those trying to make money from the boom in online media consumption. In a recent Forrester survey, while the number of European internet users who have paid for some kind of online content is 27%, a figure that grows significantly when we include those who say they might pay in the future. When we asked people what they might pay for, the greatest prospects would appear to be music, movies and e-books, although none of these markets is anywhere near maturity.

So what will it take to convert these potential buyers? Understanding how and where current and potential buyers of movies, for example, consume media online will help consumer product strategists build a successful premium service in what is set to be a crowded marketplace in 2010. A deep catalogue, the right pricing and packaging and a great user experience are all essential components, of course. But the popularity of multitasking among online movie buyers indicates the importance of integrating both social tools and a coherent multiplatform approach to maximize the paying audience in future.

If you’re a client who wants to know what a potential paying audience for movies online is looking for, you should read my new report. And if you’re interested in how potential buyers of other services behave online, get in touch.