Business Irish

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Papers retain third of online readers in spite of 'pay wall'

Times' and 'The
Sunday Times'
which are
owned by
Murdoch. Photo: Bloomberg News
'The Times' and 'The Sunday Times' which are owned by Rupert Murdoch. Photo: Bloomberg News

Peter Flanagan

TWO of the best known newspapers in Britain and Ireland have retained about a third of their online readership since they started to charge users for access.

According to statistics from Experian Hitwise, which monitors internet traffic, the Rupert Murdoch-owned 'The Times' and 'The Sunday Times' have held on to about 34pc of their online readership since they began to bring the "pay wall", as it's known, down on their websites. Just under half of the readership registered for the papers' new websites last month and more than 80pc of those who registered have gone on to pay for access. Both papers began charging on July 2.


The news that the papers have retained a third of their readers has been interpreted as a success for the idea of the "pay wall".

News International's business plan is thought to be predicated on gaining a small, loyal following that would be willing to pay for content on a consistent basis.

Some analysts had expected the websites to lose up to 90pc of their readers once they started to charge for access but that fear appears to be misplaced. 'The Times' now has a 1.83pc share of news and media traffic in the UK compared to 4.37pc in March.

"The big drop-off was actually during the registration period," said Robin Goad, research director at Experian Hitwise, who collated the data. "But since the site has gone to fully paid there hasn't been much more of a fall." Mr Murdoch controls the two papers through his News International media group.

Irish Independent

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