Times haemorrhages readers after building paywall

Since adopting a pay model, the website of UK newspapers The Times and The Sunday Times has lost around 90 per cent of its readership. 

Since 15 June, readers are required to pay a subscription of £2 per week, or £1 per day if they just want to dip in and out, but figures from web metrics company Experian Hitwise show that it now has 4.16 per cent of UK online newspaper traffic. Before the paywall went up, it was at 15 per cent.

Using this information, The Guardian has done its sums: Based on February 2010's ABCe readership figures, where The Times Online had 1.2 million daily unique visitors, and factoring in Experian Hitwise's findings, that means that it now has 332,800 daily readers. And that's just those visiting the free homepage. When it comes to the paywall, the figures get even more interesting.

The metrics agency also found that only 25.6 per cent of users visiting the thetimes.co.uk progress beyond the homepage, register and pay to proceed further, meaning that, according to them, it now has a true, paid-up readership of 84,800 daily subscribers. 

And even then, the figures are massively inflated if former Times media correspondent Dan Sabbagh is to be believed. He suggests that the sign up figures are considerably less, based on loose-lipped sources on the inside.

He is claiming that the number of people registering for The Times and Sunday Times websites during the free trial period is a mere 150,000, with only 15,000 of those actually parting with cash. 

Although a further 12,500 have also signed up to the iPad app claims Sabbagh. 

While the figures aren't official, its a good assumption that Sabbagh knows what they are. 

Either way, the numbers aren't as good as News International (the parent company of both papers) was hoping for, although it has always said that it isn't about big numbers, but a loyal audience. 

Would you sign up to a paywall? And if so, what for? Let us know in the comments below...



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