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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : October 26, 2010


Times paywall: Readership plummets, engagement rises

Has the introduction of a paywall at one of Britain's leading newspapers caused it to disappear into a "vault of darkness", as predicted by editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger? No, but it has lost a huge chunk of traffic, according to new data from Nielsen.

by Helen Leggatt

The number of unique U.K. visitors to the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times has plummeted after the introduction of a paywall in July this year. The paywall was introduced to counter losses being made by the declines in print readership.

Numbers have gone from a monthly average of 3.1 million unique visitors in the second quarter of 2010 down to just 1.78 million per month in the three months since July.

And it doesn't stop there. Just 20% of those 1.78 million uniques (362,000) went on to pay to access content.

But this wasn't unexpected and, if anything, the drop has been smaller than many in the industry had expected.

News International CEO Rebekah Brooks sent a memo to her staff alerting them to the forthcoming paywall introduction and in it prepared them for a drop in visitors. "Of course, we expect to see the numbers of unique users of our sites come down dramatically," she wrote.

"But the people who register to our new digital products will be customers who have made a positive decision to pay a fair price for journalism that they value, and they will be those who are more committed to and engaged with our titles."

And she was right. Nielsen's data reveals that the readers who are prepared to pay for content are more engaged. They visit 42% more pages each month than pre-paywall visitors.

The percentage of readers from households earning between $78,000 and $126,000 per annum has also risen, up to 29% from 25% pre-paywall.






Tags: news consumption, online journalism, paywall








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