The Times and Sunday Times to conduct paywall experiment

By March 26, 2010News

Reported on the BBC today the Times and Sunday Times will start charging for online access to their content from June.  Finally we get to see a paywall experiment from a major newspaper!  It will be interesting to see how it goes, to say the least.

The charge will be £1 per day or £2 for a week’s subscription.

Murdoch has of course been saying that he will start charging online for a while and with this move he puts the online future of two of his major UK titles up in the air.  The Sun and The News of the World will remain largely free, presumably until he can see whether the move has worked out for the Times and Sunday Times.

Interestingly the Times Online site is not starting from a position of strength.  As you can see from the table below it went backwards last year even with a free model.  Obviously at this stage nobody knows how many people will choose to pay, but as I wrote last week, my gut is this won’t work out well.

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  • chrispadfield

    Won't go mainstream until someone works out bundling. I'd pay a decent amount for say Economist, FT, Telgraph, The Times and Guardian – maybe £25-30/month.

    I think this is the future, with pick and choose “media bundles” comprising music/news/tv/film. The coordination problem is huge (role for a startup here?), and I doubt we will see it fully working for a decade. But I still believe people will pay for quality, unique content which is easy to consume. I hope they do, or the quality of content will decrease (or the state will fund quality via tax).

    I think it will be hard going on their own – but I think Murdoch just wants to lead the way here, and wouldn't be surprised if he has a bundled subscription model plan to bring in other – non Murdoch – content. There is probably no more ideal person to cross-bundle TV/news/music than him.

  • There is certainly no-one better placed to try these experiments than Murdoch. I think it is very possible that the 'old world' has a cost base that isn't required to produce quality content these days and that in the future we will get good stuff for free from small and nimble news companies like TC and Huff Post.

  • RichardForster

    I agree Nic – the FT is worth the subscription for it's unique content but the Timesonline certainly isn't.

    Newspapers like the music industry are trying desperately to cling onto their old business models for dear life.