News Corporation has revealed that 105,000 readers have paid to read The Times and Sunday Times online and via mobiles, since both broadsheet papers’ websites went behind a paywall four months ago.
The media giant revealed a further 100,000 people have a joint subscription to read the newspapers digitally and in print, the papers add.
The figures have been eagerly awaited by publishers and advertisers since the two papers went behind an online paywall four months ago.
Times readers are charged £1 for a day’s digital access – the same price as the weekday newspaper – or £2 for a week’s subscription to the Times and Sunday Times sites.
Print subscribers gain free access, while international visitors face charges of $2/€1.50 a day or $4/€3 a week. The Times iPad app costs £9.99 a month.
Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, James Harding, Times Editor defended the audience stats, saying: “We haven’t been cut off from the conversation online” adding that the “iPad edition has changed the way we do our journalism”.
The announcement follows figures released by Nielsen last week, that estimated 362,000 Britons were behind the Times paywall. The paywall went live on July 2nd.
Nielsen said across July, August and September (Q3), a monthly average of 1.78 million UK Individuals (group 1) visited the site from home and work locations. This compares to a monthly average of 3.10 million Uniques during the previous quarter without the paywall.
The research found that not only do those who sign up online generate extra subscription revenue, the entire registered paywall group are of particular value, as they offer a richer sales proposition through a combination of providing more details about themselves, being more engaged with the site and being more socially affluent than the previous audience.
Paywalls are increasingly being given serious consideration by publishers as they look to increase revenues from their digital content and provide a more ‘valuable’ audience to advertisers.
News Corp’s tabloid offerings – The Sun and the News of the World – and the Mirror are other UK national non-specialist papers in the process of following The Times in charging for online content.
The Netimperative View
While there is some modest subscription revenue, the adverting business model will be collapsing. One solution may be for open web access alongside paid delivery, through the convenience of iPad and Kindle. But however you look at the numbers, it’s a massive decline in audience.