News Corp’s Times of London: 105K Paying Digital Subs

News Corporation-owned Times of London, which erected a paywall around its online edition in June, reported that it had 105,000 paying digital subscribers. That includes iPad and Kindle subscribers. According to the New York Times’ News Corp also said, “another 100,000 readers have activated free digital accounts that are included in print subscriptions to the papers.”

However, according to PaidContent, the new paying audience is much smaller than the earlier “free” online audience — and now smaller than print:

Times Newspapers has now gone from an online readership which, at 20 million monthly uniques before the switch, was 13 times larger than its combined print circulation of 1.5 million per week, to one which is now vastly smaller, perhaps at least 30 times smaller, than its print audience.

The traffic loss incurred from switching to paid from free was better than expected, at “only” 42% (vs. the 90% anticipated). Nielsen estimated the before and after audiences for the Times as follows:

Nielsen also compared the before and after demographics:

Nielsen concluded that the paying audience is more desirable for advertisers than the general free audience visiting the site before the paywall was erected. (The New York Times is soon to implement a paywall with a Financial-Times-like tiered access model.)

Times of London revenues from the digital subscriptions weren’t disclosed. But by my crude calculation it comes in just under $20 million. It’s difficult now to estimate before and after ad revenues vs. subscription revenues but that’s the calculation, literally.

As marketers on the Web increasingly adopt audience-based targeting, in which ad inventory is “commoditized” across the Internet, paywalls may have the secondary benefit of making the publisher’s ad inventory more  unique and desirable to some advertisers. Others may shun it as lacking sufficient reach.

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  1. NY Times Paywall Is Nigh says at

    […] Newsday’s paywall efforts proved highly unsuccessful. But the Colorado Springs Business Journal has succeeded, as have The Financial Times and the WSJ have both been successful. There are other success stories, as well as failures. The Times of London seems to be somewhere in the middle. […]

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