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Times subscribers: News from behind the paywall

Rory Cellan-Jones | 09:29 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

We've had rumours, estimates, surveys and guesswork about what's going on behind the Times paywall - now finally we have some hard facts. Times Newspapers says 105,000 customers have paid to visit the Times and Sunday Times websites since the paywall went up four months ago, while another 100,000 have a subscription to read the papers online as well as in print.

Screengrab of Times online frontpage

 

So does that add up to a success likely to be copied by other papers? Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, says this is an encouraging start, and the Times' editor James Harding told the Today programme it was the first time in more than 200 years that a paper had managed to get anyone to pay for a format other than print.

The real test of this great experiment is whether it will deliver more revenue than was available to the papers when their content was freely available online.

There are still some imponderables. We know that the 105,000 includes those who have paid for the more expensive iPad app, or to read the papers on Amazon's Kindle but we don't know the split. We are also unclear just how "sticky" these paying customers are - in other words, whether or not they renew their subscriptions at the end of each week or month.

We do know that around half are paying monthly - that's £8 for the website or £10 for the iPad app - and the rest are paying £1 for a day's access. By my very rough back-of-the envelope calculations that adds up to annual revenue of around £7m.

On top of that there will still be some advertising revenue, and with 100,000 paper subscribers having activated their digital editions, the newspapers have a total online audience of 200,000.

Now, once you try to work out what the size of the Times online audience was before the paywall went up you enter the murky world of web statistics. So by one measure, which looks at traffic to a website, the Times used to have a global audience of more than 20 million a month. But Nielsen, which uses a panel to measure web audiences much as it does with television viewers, reckons the true figure in the UK was 3.1 million.

So if we assume that much lower figure is accurate then the Times has suffered a drop in its online audience of more than 90%. But those who remain will be more valuable to advertisers - a study by Nielsen found they were reading more of the paper and tended to be better off than the passing trade which used to skip through the free website.

With a paper like the Guardian now earning around £40 million a year in online revenues, I think it's safe to assume that Times Newspapers has yet to achieve the same revenues from its paywall experiment that were available when its website was free. That's not to say this adventure has failed. The Times has shown that there is an audience, albeit small, willing to pay for digital content, and other newspaper groups are rushing to imitate parts of the experiment, notably the use of tablet computers as a paid platform.

One thing though did strike me about James Harding's interview on the Today programme this morning. He said his journalists' fears that they might be cut off from the online conversation had proved groundless. Really? That's not what I've heard from at least one reporter, frustrated to see rivals enjoy all the online buzz around their stories now denied to a journalist hidden behind the paywall.

And when there was a brief chink in that wall, allowing anyone in for free for a couple of hours, Times columnist Caitlin Moran encouraged her Twitter followers to rush in and grab what they could.

Still, as Mr Harding will no doubt point out, these are very hard times for the newspaper trade, and good journalism costs money. Maybe the Times great experiment can prove that online readers value the words of Caitlin Moran and her colleagues so highly that they are even prepared to pay for them.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Rory,

    Your calculation of £7m in revenue doesn't take into account that they are still running their special offer of £1 for a month's access. Nobody is actually paying the full rate, as the offer is universal.

    Also what's key is that the 105,000 is the total number of users since the paywall started. As you say, there is no indication of renewal rates. Simply taking conversion rates for print subscriptions from cheap trial periods, it's probably pretty low. Adding in how easy it is to unsubscribe to web-based offers compared to postal ones, it'll be very low. Anecdotal evidence suggests the conversion rate is actually tiny.

    Perhaps they'd like to say how many total active subscriptions are currently on their full rate deal? No? I thought not. They would be trumpeting that if it wasn't embarrassingly low.

  • Comment number 2.

    I still think that the move shows a complete lack of understanding of today's audience and the way people interact with each other.

    Whenever I've seen something interesting or relevant to myself or someone I know, I've wanted to forward it on to them. With the old Times website, if I saw something really good in the printed paper I could look it up online and post it to Twitter or Facebook, or send an instant message or text message with the URL. The recipient(s) could then check it out in their own time.

    This no longer applies, so I cannot share with other people the stories I have read in The Times. I can, however, share stories I read in other newspapers or on other websites. And I can find stories on the same topic in those to forward to my friends.

    Word-of-mouth (or word-of-blog, in these days) is a major element of advertising any service. I wonder how the paper will fare if others choose NOT to follow this path and allow their content to be spread to potential customers.

  • Comment number 3.

    The FT charges for full online access so the assertion of Mr Harding quoted above (that this is the first time in 200 years that a paper was getting paid for a format other than a physical paper) is not true

  • Comment number 4.

    Of course, it's absolutely in the Times' interest to make the project seem like a success so that other quality papers follow suit. It'll be a lot easier to convince people to pay if there are no free alternatives.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think it's a shame for the contributors, I used to like Caitlin Moran's writing but it seems like the Times' journalists are writing in a vacuum. My instinct is to agree with the first poster... if the figures were anything to celebrate, Murdoch would be crowing from the rooftops.

  • Comment number 6.

    3. At 10:45am on 02 Nov 2010, laertes wrote:
    The FT charges for full online access so the assertion of Mr Harding quoted above (that this is the first time in 200 years that a paper was getting paid for a format other than a physical paper) is not true
    ----------------------------------------------------

    ...and at least the FT lets you have free access to a certain number of articles a month (30 I think) as long as you register. This goes part way to addressing Judith's concerns (2. At 10:32am ).

  • Comment number 7.

    Whoah, many users are over the £1 introductory offer and are now paying £8. As soon as I spotted the £8 on my bank statement I churned. Unsubscribing is not easy to do, I had to phone NI. A bit unethical and a sure sign NI may be struggling.

  • Comment number 8.

    I was one of those who did sign up, at first, for the iPad app.

    However I have not re-subscribed. And will not be doing so. So if I'm one of the 100,000 mentioned you can cross my name off.

  • Comment number 9.

    I don't pay the subscription and I also stopped buying the printed version of the Times. I might be the only one sulking but I wonder if any reduction in the revenue from the printed version is taken into account.

  • Comment number 10.

    As always, some carefully chosen statistics there. "105,000 have paid" could well mean they've had all of £105,000 from trials and you HAVE to assume their ad revenue has taken some kind of hit from a 90% reduction in readership. The conversion rate will indeed be very interesting but I don't expect we'll get to hear what that is unless it becomes impressive. I used to regularly read and share Times content (and was pictured on the home page once! Albeit as second billing to the snowstorm I was standing in) but cannot remember ever pursuing an ad. Perhaps my ilk are the wrong type of reader anyway.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ 7

    "Unsubscribing is not easy to do"

    While a button on the website would be better, I don't think you could say it's hard to unsubscribe. I made the call to the number given for account queries and after about 30 seconds on the phone I had unsubscribed.

    Also, I think they have scrapped the £10.00 iPad charge and your £8.66 now covers online access and iPad access. Still not sure how many people will use it but sounds like better value than the ridiculous £18.66 per month if you wanted both before.

  • Comment number 12.

    Doesn't anyone remember the Independent's attempt to charge for content? Their portfolio service charged for individual articles that the Indie thought they could charge for, especially columnists such as Robert Fisk.

    Whatever happened to that idea?

  • Comment number 13.

    Just to put the record straight. The Times is not available on Kindle.
    I own a Kindle.

  • Comment number 14.

    the times is advertising itself .. it's all about numbers .. the times needs advertising revenue too .. advertisers pay to advertise and hopefully to a large market .. so the times wants advertisers to believe the "paper" is read by lots .. and in detail .. that's why 100,000 ..

    the real figures are the gross revenue from on-line charges .. and regular readers ..

    all i know is my regular newsagent says sales of the guardian have gone up ..





  • Comment number 15.

    I used to read the Times online, but to be fair I never was a buyer of the paper, it was more casual when a story took my interest, or a link from elsewhere.
    I don't miss it, and it is probably true to say the other 88% have a similar view.
    Pay to view is a sad way to go for one of the most informative news sources in the UK.

  • Comment number 16.

    "...other newspaper groups are rushing to imitate parts of the experiment, notably the use of tablet computers as a paid platform..."

    Another reason not to buy a tablet then. Thanks.

  • Comment number 17.

    Like PostmodernPippo, I too sulked and stopped buying the printed version when the paywall was instituted. In reality, I don't feel starved of news and the only thing I miss is Caitlin Moran - for whom I'd happily 'buy a beer'(/tizer/champagne cocktail) per article if she went independent...

  • Comment number 18.

    The paywall isn't the answer to funding good journalism. Neither will tablet apps until they become fully fledged multimedia productions instead of a rehash of the text found in print. They have to do something better not be worse.

    I participated in the free trial of the new websites and bought the iPad app once. I stopped using them after a few days because I didn't find them compelling. They did little to exploit the potential of the new medium and I would have preferred the hardcopy.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well if it isn't News International busy spreading inaccurate "facts". Who would ever have thought that.

    Firstly the FT is mostly behind a pay wall too, as a specialist newspaper, and they've had subscription for a while now as has the New York Times. The difference between the two is, they also realise that they need the eyeballs of the free visitors to at least see some of that content to be able to decide if it is worth purchasing in the first place.

    "If they sign up for a trial they tend to stick with us" says Harding, without actually giving a figure. Its quite obvious that its the iPad version thats bringing in revenue, not the web site.

    They've lost 90% of their readers, they've lost all internet based engagement unless its self contained within their own site. They've lost massive amounts of advertising revenue in this experiment, and it hasn't worked. The sooner they'll admit that, the sooner they'll find a revenue stream that works and makes sense.

  • Comment number 20.

    @11 "Also, I think they have scrapped the £10.00 iPad charge and your £8.66 now covers online access and iPad access."

    Not unless Apple have suddenly changed their policy they haven't!

  • Comment number 21.

    I gave it a try but I didn't think that the articles were of sufficient depth to justify the cost. Some of the columnists are a good read but so are those on the BBC website. The layout of the Times site is quite scattergun and it's not always easy to know where you are. It lacks the sense of occasion, too, that comes with opening a quality daily paper. Sometimes I like a printed paper, other times a web app will do me just fine, depending on how much time I have, but I can't justify the cost of both.

  • Comment number 22.

    Rory Cellan-Jones.

    "We do know that around half are paying monthly - that's £8 for the website or £10 for the iPad app - and the rest are paying £1 for a day's access."

    if I read the Times frequently, I'd think £8 (£10 even) quite a good deal, and the one day access is the same as the cost of the printed copy.

    however, I share Judith's (#2) concerns about paywalls in general.

  • Comment number 23.

    "...other newspaper groups are rushing to imitate parts of the experiment, notably the use of tablet computers as a paid platform..."

    Despite owning an iPad I have not yet succumbed to setting up a subscription for the Times app. Why? The Telegraph provide a free (ad funded) news app, the BBC provide a licence fee funded app and I can also use RSS readers to get a huge amount of free news content, blogs etc.

    The tablet PC is just another content consumption platform, as yet there is no real innovation with any digital content offerings which would make me want to pay a premium. Without this innovation and/or attractive pricing I don't see there being significant uptake in online/tablet subscriptions.

  • Comment number 24.

    It wasn't long ago that we thought that paying for TV (other than the licence fee) was a bit odd. Now I'm probably in a small minority that doesn't pay for a cable or satellite package. Murdoch was able to make that change in the nation's mentality by cornering some key sporting events -- largely cricket in the early days I think. I believe that this experiment is doomed to fail because there isn't the same irreplaceable content. Sure I miss a couple of writers from The Times, but there are plenty of other great reporters and columnists out there to substitute -- for a cricket fan there's no substitute for the Ashes. And I think that the greatest threat is not being able attracting new readers. As other people have pointed out, nobody shares links to The Times anymore. And I wonder how many teenagers are in that 105,000?

  • Comment number 25.

    The problem is that the Times has lost influence where it matters most - in the social media arena. Even something as simple as e-mailing a friend the link to an interesting article is impossible as they're most likely not a subscriber. Never mind of course posting across Facebook and Twitter.

    For me and my friends, the solution is simple - search for the equivalent article on the Guardian/Independent, or better yet, search for it on Google News, where you can read the same article on hundreds of websites. Information and news is free, Mr Murdoch. Get used to it.

  • Comment number 26.

    I used to read it the Times online every day. I was gutted when they started charging, but I refuse to pay for news when it's free elsewhere.

    I accept the argument that one should pay for quality journalism, but I believe that a good website could be profitable through advertising.

    Between the Torygraph, FT, the Champagne Socialists at The Grauniad and Aunty, I think I get balanced enough news.

    I hope others don't succumb to this and we see the Times for free again soon.

  • Comment number 27.

    What perhaps upsets the print media's applecart is that they have some considerable competitors, one of which certainly has a very well-established online offering which is supprted by UK TV license payers. If the BBC had to charge users of the BBC news website how would the numbers add up then? Care to guess? Would the BBC be celebrating, or running to Parliament and asking for more money?

  • Comment number 28.

    "good journalism costs money"
    That may be true, but most of the advert reading, subscription buying populus wouldn't differentiate good journalism if it bites them on the ankles.
    We're spoilt by the BBC and only recognise bad journalism as trashy content.

    I see the Telegraph Weekend (iPad) and Daily Mail (iPhone) both have apps now and at more reasonalble rates. Does cheaper apps mean less quality? I guess that depends in part on your political leanings.

    But I know from my experience, if I want the news I first go to the BBC and then Google.

  • Comment number 29.

    @20 "Not unless Apple have suddenly changed their policy they haven't!"

    I'm not sure what the Times' pricing model has got to to with Apple, but anyway this is taken from the Times website section on iPad edition FAQs...

    "The Times iPad Edition is now absolutely free of charge for the first 30 days: download it for free via iTunes. At the end of your 30-day free trial you can choose how to continue accessing the app. It is complimentary with your current subscription to thetimes.co.uk ... Alternatively, you can purchase your next 30 days’ access to The Times iPad Edition for £9.99 from iTunes."

  • Comment number 30.

    John Jameson wrote:

    >I think that the greatest threat is not being able attracting new >readers. As other people have pointed out, nobody shares links to The >Times anymore. And I wonder how many teenagers are in that 105,000?

    The answer is none. Well no under 18's anyway. Under 18's are not allowed to register to use the site.

    I work at a College where we used to use The Times website (and where we buy paper copies of the Times and FT) - basically NI have shut this down and made it impossible for us to use their site anymore. As a result we use the competition. Does this mean they are unlikely to attract new users? I'd guess so

  • Comment number 31.

    As someone who gets asked to comment on various broadband things for newspapers/online etc the change to paywall now means that any comment provided to The Times will provide very little in the way SEO advantage.

    This means that while happy to provide quotes, I might not go out of my way so much as in the past, and a journalist from another paper is likely to get their briefing first.

    One presumes others may doing similar, which in time might dilute some of the expertise in areas the paper covers.

  • Comment number 32.

    The problem here is that we don't have enough figures.

    For instance, how much revenue did the Times get from its online side before the change? Comparing it to the Guardian would be OK - if we knew how many visitors the Guardian gets per month.

    To match their current revenue, the Times would have needed to earn 2.4p per visitor from advertising, which seems quite a high amount to me, especially for CPI advertising.

    Also, the fact that they are charging means that now they can tell their advertisers that the demographic has just moved up a few notches in the financial ranking, as obviously the adverts behind the paywall are going to people with money to spare, rather than going to people who are too stingy to pay for things.

    The Times is also less reliant on advertising, so they can employ less people to try to sell advertising space.

    The experiment seems reasonably successful to me so far. Even if viewer numbers dropped, they are now 'better quality' viewers, and the Times still earns much more from the website than it costs to run it.

  • Comment number 33.

    @c2s OMG, it's even worse than I thought! That is such a stupid move. I suppose that they might assume that parents would let their kids use their account, but still. I read The Times throughout my teenage years, and got a great offer to buy my own copy for a large part of that time. Without appealing to new young readers this idea is doomed.

  • Comment number 34.

    What this figure omits is the number of people who, like me, are already subscribers to The Times and therefore have in theory access to the online version but in practice have not.

    I find that any number of email complaints that I cannot log on the online site without demands for more money have met with feeble responses from the technical staff.

  • Comment number 35.

    The material on offer is too poor to read, even if it were free - this stuff is run by Murdoch, isn't it? It's bad enough reading trash, but paying to read trash is absurd.

  • Comment number 36.

    I used to read the on-line Times frequently and also subscribed to the paper Times every day. And I very often sent links to friends. Now I get the paper Times only four days a week -- I wasn't able to finish reading it every day so why pay -- and have not subscribed to the on-line paper at all. I miss reading it but not enough to pay for it. And, as Judith said, I can usually find stories on other, free, sites. I feel as if I've lost something but the Times has lost more.

  • Comment number 37.

    I can only see this making sense as part of some 'bigger plan' by News Corp to bundle 'The Times/S Times'--and the exclusive 'big story' parts of Sun and NotW in pics and video---as options in a more converged offering of broadcast Tv, and 'narrowcast' web delivery---The Times/S Times as a 'channel' alongside NBC, CNN , Bloomberg etc on the 'TV' but delivered like i-player via the internet.

    Just having the old fashioned 'newspaper page' slapped on the net (even with pic galleries and video) and then trying to get people to pay a subscription can only cannabilise existing readership revenue and harm existing ad levels---if one doesn't buy the Times already the online offering is hardly likely to draw the reader in---and if one does, and begins online subscription--how long before kne stops reading the paper.

    Rupeert Murdoch isn't stupid, that is for sure, so I can only see the present 'offer' as a step on a "work in progress"--- despite the present apparent inertia in the media world , convergence and consolidation will continue.

    But the more The Times enters the interactive online space...and the more fluent it's channels of delivery..the more it will look more like what we understand as a TV news channel and less like a 'paper'. But this challenge is less acute for Rupert Murdoch than it is for other media companies.

    The national titles are in an odd space now ---a bit like 'Regional newspapers' were, even in the pre-digital media world... They're vulnerable to attack from 'below' (from specialist 'publishers'--so young people go to Blog-chat sites for celebrity news say and not 'newspapers'--who have increasingly followed the internet anyway for a few years now---- but also struggle against brands 'above them' to carry conviction in a fully digital world where news can be largely disintermediated.


  • Comment number 38.

    As a few other correspondents have said, I suspect their numbers are a bit inflated. I used to take out a monthly subscription to their crossword club, and they've given me free access until next year - and I no longer need to pay for access to the crossword either, so it's saved me money! I shan't subscribe when the freebie runs out however. I happily pay a pound for the hard copy newspaper when I've time to read it, but when you're browsing the net, you're not looking for the same depth of coverage, and it's not worth the money

  • Comment number 39.

    I stopped reading the Times in any format when the Sunday Times started their 'The Trouble with Women' column.
    There is a chance that some of their (potentially paying) audience might be (gasp) women, or men who like and respect women.
    I can't see them getting away with a 'The trouble with Muslims' or 'The trouble with gay people' - and quite right too. But why attack women?
    Think I'm exagerating. Take a look at in yourselves - as long as you can find a way not to give them any money in the process!

  • Comment number 40.

    It would be interesting to know the social and professional demographics of the people who are subscribing.

    How many of these subscriptions are of necessity e.g their competitors or news-cutting agencies?

    How many are libraries and reference services who are offering a service either publicly or commercially?

    And finally, how many are the average 'wo/man in the street'?

  • Comment number 41.

    When Derren Brown tweeted his followers re press coverage press, he linked to two interviews: one, the Guardian piece direct from their website, the other a scan of the Times "dead tree" interview.

    Says it all.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the Times have shot themselves in he foot. I used to get the Times paper most days, and on other days look at their internet site. When they started charging for the internet site, I switched to the Guardian and then a few weeks later started buying the Guardian newspaper.

  • Comment number 43.

    I used to visit the Times website a lot, but since it went behind the paywall I have not once considered paying for access. Why would I want to when I get good quality news coverage for free elsewhere? Quite frankly I think it would be absurd to pay £8 for the privelege of gaining access.

    As a football fan, the only thing I miss about not reading The Times now is the "The Game" magazine that was available every Monday. I used to read it online - especially Gabrielle Marcotti's excellent articles - but now I make do with the The Game Podcast every Monday and Marcotti's articles are available for free on the Wall Street Journal's website.

  • Comment number 44.

    I was a senior member of the team who launched the original Times and Sunday Times websites in '92. My background was not publishing, so I came at the project with 'fresh eyes'.

    Once the staff of the papers had accepted that the website might not appear in Times Roman on everybody's screens the next potentail show-stopper was the loss of the cover price. Murdoch had made the decision to publish online, so the debates were academic but many folks on the papers at that time had serious reservations.

    The problem is (and always was) that the internet is not like print. One of the arguments I used to have over and over with senior editorial staff was to do with selection. Who decides what I want to read? Why should I pay (whatever the amount) for a printed newspaper, half of which I'm not remotely interested in? Particularly when I can pick through the news that interests me on a high quality website like this one?

    News publishing, especially in countries like Britain, became 'monolithic', or should that be imperious? Revenues were so high before the internet that Murdoch, Rothermere et al really must have felt like emperors. However, time moves on - even if The Times follows slowly and reluctantly.

    In the days of The Thunderer, The Times was an undisputed authority. Who are the authorities now? And how do we interact with them? There are many popular news websites (like this one)which are free and highly accessible. They encourage interaction and like people sending stories to each other - thus virally increasing readership. The Times has pulled out of this arena (clip of a tortoise pulling its head into its shell?) and so can only be considered an authority by a tiny percentage of the population. Catch 22. If The Time is no longer an authority, why would we want to pay a cover price?

    This feels a little like the thrashings of a gigantic dying beast.

  • Comment number 45.

    Lumping in ebook subscribers is a con, as several comments (and Rory, to a degree) have pointed out. Paying for a Kindle subscription and buying a newspaper are not that dissimilar, in terms of the delivery cycle and end-product, yet it's more convenient, so of course we are prepared to pay. The only reason this isn't already happening on a large scale, and reducing print subscriptions in the process, is the amazingly poor quality of ebook editions of most papers, which have obviously been cut-and-pasted together by an intern.

    The paywall for the online edition is a completely unrelated delivery method, whose future is altogether less rosy. NI's decision to conflate the two in their figures proves that the paywall is a monumental flop.

  • Comment number 46.

    What a lot of cynicism!

    I don't read The Times, and as a former worker in the newspaper industry I have absolutely no respect for Murdoch's employment practices. But, with the way the industry is going, someone had to do something. At least he's taken the initiative, instead of sitting back waiting to see what happens.

    And if anyone's going to be able to make paid-for content work, it'll be him. Remember how, with the advent of the Murdoch-owned Sky, we all said: "No one's going to pay extra to watch television, when they already pay their licence fee."? But they did.

    The BBC has a lot to answer for. Its admittedly excellent news website comes for free, because there have been almost unlimited funds to be poured into it. All the other news organisations have had to compete with that, without the guaranteed funding. (It will be interesting to see what happens now that's starting to dry up.) They all plunged in to having an online presence because they felt they had to, because everyone else was doing it, but without really knowing why and without thinking it through. Now someone's got to try to make it work, and Murdoch's the one who's stepped forward. If he makes a go of it, the rest will follow suit.

    The most inventive response so far to the industry's woes, I thouhgt, came last week with the Independent's 20p offshoot, as a reply to the threat of the Metro. Really off-the-wall thinking in a way that nobody else had come up with

  • Comment number 47.

    Surely advertisers will be horrified by the 90% drop in viewers of their
    adverts? Advertisers will demand a sharp reduction in the fees they pay to advertise in The Times online.
    Personally I would never pay to look at the news as it is freely available from so many sources in English from around the globe. Currently I mainly use the BBC and Telegraph for online news but would switch to Chinese newspapers excellent English news coverage or similar if they started charging. I have not paid for a newspaper for years and only take the occasional free paper when I need to change the oil in my car at home.

  • Comment number 48.

    @29 As far as I was aware Apple didn't allow third party subscription services through the iOS system.
    Perhaps I was wrong!

  • Comment number 49.

    @48

    I think you are. Apple now have a facility for you to purchase additional content etc directly through an app which you have previously downloaded.

  • Comment number 50.

    One or two people have compared News International's task of converting readers to a pay model with Sky's converting viewers to pay TV and seem to believe or at least imply that because it worked for Sky it can work for The Times and the rest of the News International's online media.

    I'm sorry but it seems to me that that's flawed thinking.

    Sky managed to get people to pay for TV because it offered content (especially live football, cricket and golf, as well as movies) that wasn't available elsewhere and which some people at least were happy to pay to receive.

    Almost nothing behind the News Internation paywall is unique. If you want to read about a news story then there are literally dozens (hundreds?) of free alternatives that offer comparable standards of journalism.

    And if it's opinion pieces that you're after then, well, in addition to those alternative news sources you have a world full of bloggers, too, some of whom will have specialist knowledge of the subject in hand that's far superior to any columnist.

    In short, The Times and its sister publications aren't anything special and by erecting this paywall not only have the papers isolated themselves from the bulk of its online readers but they've effectively opted out of the internet, too.

    I suppose I should point out that I was a subscriber to The Times and The Sunday Times for the last nine or so years but opted to end my subscription only last month, in part because of how badly they have handled things like this recently. The icing on the cake wasn't the 100 percent increase in the price of my subscription but the way that The Times tried to "sell" doubling the price as something that was providing me greater value for money than ever before: frankly, it was an insult to my intelligence and a piece of marketing spin that even a two year-old would see through. I voted with my feet and now read a rival newspaper.

  • Comment number 51.

    Just to put the record straight on number 13, I too own a Kindle, and I have The Times delivered to it daily; the difference I guess being that mine is a US model registered to a US address and a US credit card. In what is surely a further leap of genius, you can only subscribe to The Times on the Kindle in the US, not in the UK - I have no idea why this may be. I wouldn't worry too much though - they've put zero effort into getting it to fit the Kindle's format (tables are just continuous numbers, you get one picture on the front page etc) and it kills the reading experience, I won't be subscribing any longer. Shame really, I've got an iPad but don't want to carry it with me all the time (even if the app for the iPad is much better laid out), so they've already lost one of the very few people willing to pay for their material.

  • Comment number 52.

    I've registered with the BBC specifically to contribute here.

    I am one of the 100,000 willing to pay £8/month, which is extraordinary because I have never paid for news ever not even the hard copies on a regular basis, and as a Kiwi it equates this morning to NZ$16.66.

    The thing is I now live in Italy, I can drive 30 minutes into Trento and collect a weekly Sunday Times at 5 euro a pop, not good value, this way I get access to everything, all the time.

    More importantly is quality and depth of news. As a website designer of more than 11 years I have got all my news online since then and frankly of late it has been seriously lacking, its all the same dross churned out accross the time zones, light and fluffy, even the serious stuff. You just don't get quality, you get what you pay for.

    I now love to see the entire paper, adverts and all, exactly as it is printed. I feel like I share the news as anyone else who reads The Times which I value immensely as a foreigner abroad.

    I admit it was a friend who tipped me off about the £1 special, I was going to sign off as soon as the first month expired. But I'm keeping it for my sanity in an insane world, and because its worth it to me.

  • Comment number 53.

    Why would I want to pay for the online version? The printed version is bad enough.

    I stopped reading the printed version when the content went below that of the local parish magazine, and what content there is is the same old same old every day; Climate Change, Guest Labour Party Columnist, Mr Contrary Aaranovitch (aaargghhh).

  • Comment number 54.

    Are people really paying monthly? A friend of mine took out a monthly subscription when the paywall went up, and has had his initial subscription extended again and again. He's paid nothing since the initial fee.

  • Comment number 55.

    I am honestly surprised that the paywall has done this well. In this day and age of free news from all over the globe, the idea that as many as 200,000 people have paid to access the Times Online is staggering. News Corp might breathe a sigh of relief that it hasn't failed entirely.

    As mentioned before, I'd love to see if people are re-subscribing or just sticking with the trial.

  • Comment number 56.

    As usual for BBC article comments, most readers here seem to assume that evil Mr Murdoch is gauging his customers by asking for 30p a day for a newspaper they would have bought traditionally for £1, and the very idea of paid-for online news is ridiculous.

    Wake up people! Either someone pays or the newspaper folds. Yes, they may have got 10m uniques per month before the pay wall, but at general display advertising rates that is worth less than £1m a year (assuming a very generous £8 CPM)

    So I agree with #1 that it's unlikely their revenue from subscription will get much beyond £1m in 2010, at least it's a good base to grow from. Plus they can still generate the kind of affiliate and targeted advertising income that boosts the Guardian and Telegraph sites up to half decent (although not profitable) levels.

  • Comment number 57.

    My news consumption used to go:

    Guardian paper
    BBC website
    Telegraph website
    Indy website
    Times website
    Mail website (we all enjoy a bit of trash...)
    Observer or Times on Sunday.

    It's now:

    BBC website
    Telegraph website
    Guardian website
    Mail website
    Guardian paper if I'm away from home, Observer if it's a Sunday.
    occasionally Indy or al-jazeera

    That's it. Don't miss the Times, will never pay for it.

  • Comment number 58.

    @51 - The Times is available on Amazon UK for the Kindle as well. I've just checked and it's 99 pence for single download or £9.99 for monthly subscription. Not tried it so cannot comment on content or layout.

  • Comment number 59.

    Edward wrote:

    Wake up people! Either someone pays or the newspaper folds

    So? Let it. No institution, no matter how old and whatever its reputation should be immune from death. If it can't compete in the modern world then let it go under and leave the field open for more imaginative organisations that can come up with new ways to make money.

    If anyone needs to wake up it is Murdoch. News is free. His so called 'quality journalism' isn't worth anything.

 

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