Visits to the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times have dropped by 1.2 million since May 2010, according to new data.
The statistics, from ComScore, indicate that the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times dropped from 2.79 million in May 2010 to 1.61 million in July 2010.
News International launched its separate Thetimes.co.uk and Thesundaytimes.co.uk websites on 25 May.
It made registration compulsory and began redirecting users from the old site on 15 June and started charging for access to both sites on 2 July.
The Murdoch-owned media conglomerate has so far not revealed any information about traffic on the two sites since the paywall was introduced or how much money it was generating, but ComScore’s data suggests that traffic has fallen by 27 per cent since June and 42 per cent since May.
The pre-paywall drop between May and June could be explained by all visitors to the sites being required to register to access content beyond the homepage, though visitors didn’t have to pay for access until 2 July.
News International has run an introductory offer offering subscribers 30 days’ access for £1. Its basic pricing is £1 for a day’s access to The Times and The Sunday Times and £2 for a week, while subscribers to each newspaper get free access to the related website.
Visitors are also spending less time on the site than the previous two months – in May, visitors spent an average of 7.6 minutes on the site, dropping to 5.8 minutes in June and to just four minutes in July.
Page views declined from 29 million in May to just nine million in July.
Early figures from traffic-monitoring firm Hitwise suggested that the sites lost two-thirds of their visitors in the first week after the paywall was introduced.
However, the Guardian argued that the real figure could have been as high as 90 per cent because Hitwise’s figures didn’t take into account people who visited the site only to leave immediately after being asked to pay for access beyond the homepage.
Earlier this month the newspapers’ proprietor Rupert Murdoch claimed subscriber levels were “strong”.
Currently the Financial Times and Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal are the only other major papers to have paywalls in place.
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