Times' pay wall results in 60 pct drop in traffic, competitors' benefit

Last Updated: Sat, Jul 03, 2010 10:50 hrs

The Times has introduced a pay wall due to falling advertising income, but this step has brought down traffic over the last couple of weeks.

"Since the registration wall has gone live, we've seen about a 60 per cent drop in traffic over the last couple of weeks," BBC quoted Robin Goad from Experian Hitwise, which monitors web traffic, as saying.

"However, that is probably a little bit less of a drop than a lot of people expected... so this is quite a positive," he added.

According to BBC, access to the Times and Sunday Times website will cost 1pound per day, or 2 pounds a week if readers sign up to a subscription. But under an introductory offer, registered readers will be able to access the site for 1 pound for the first month.

News International, which owns the papers, announced plans to impose charges earlier this year in response to falling advertising income.

Currently the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal are the only major papers to have similar pay walls.

All other national papers offer free access to their sites, but are likely to watch the launch of the Times paywall closely.

BBC stated that its correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones and other papers including the Guardian have vowed to keep content free, pinning their hopes on a recovery in advertising revenues.

Although the Times risks losing readers as a result of the new charges, News International hopes the charge will be low enough to attract sufficient readers.

The move to a paywall has been met with scepticism from users, with many reluctant to part money for content, which could be read for free elsewhere on the internet.

The competitors are taking advantage of this situation.

Telegraph attracted 3.8 per cent of the Times' readers and the Guardian and Daily Mail sites each received 2 per cent of the Times' traffic.

Experian, however, have pointed out that none of the paper's rivals has particularly benefited from Times readers needing to register for content, but that may change when readers have to start paying.

The experts also analysed readers of the other websites and found that, the Independent received the largest proportion of its traffic from the Times' registration site, MyTimes+, closely followed by the Telegraph.

"The Times' traditional broadsheet competitors are best placed to pick up readers not willing to register or pay to see its content," he said. (ANI)

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