Murdoch’s The Times switches on the pay wall

C:\Documents and Settings\tim\My Documents\My Pictures\The_Times_paywall.pngRupert Murdoch’s pay wall adventure has begun.

The subscription page for News Corp’s London-based newspaper The Times has just been switched on.

The price – £1 for a day’s access or £2 for a week – was announced a few weeks ago.

Today the paywall was turned on, with readers being offered an initial special offer of £1 for a 30 day trial.  

The Australian arm of the News Corp operation has also been uppping the pace in its race towards paid content online.

Yesterday, News Ltd annnounced that Virgin Mobile marketing director Anthony Hearne is to lead its drive to market its paid online content.

And The Australian has already  launched its paid iPad app.


  1. Wolfcat
    2 Jul 10
    3:55 pm

  2. has the figures for what happened when the register wall went up…

    Market share has dropped from 4.37% during the week ending May 22nd to 2.67% last week (w/e June 19th).

    Expect these numbers to drop even more dramatically.

  3. Kate Richardson
    2 Jul 10
    4:08 pm

  4. It’s Christmas for The Guardian

  5. Kimota
    2 Jul 10
    4:38 pm

  6. …and in the ultimate irony, the headline on the front page of the website “Times paywall starts up with special offer” requires you to go through the paywall to read it!

  7. franksting
    2 Jul 10
    4:44 pm

  8. Tim
    Your special offers link is broken
    On the plus side, the 1 pound a day offer has NO MOBILE ACCESS
    They much have an iPad app

  9. Keith
    2 Jul 10
    5:17 pm

  10. Shame, ’cause it was awesome. Probably the best news site in the world. Maybe I don’t get it, but surely having millions of people access your site and charging more for the advertising is a better model than having 3 people subscribe to it and no one look at the ads.

    Anyways, The Times is the wrong site to charge for. Primarily it’s a news/sport/lifestyle site – stuff every site has. If it was a business site, with sharemarket information etc, etc, that was going to make the user money, I’d understand….

    I can go to plenty of free sites to get the scores in the World Cup, thank you Mr Times….

  11. mumbrella
    2 Jul 10
    6:30 pm

  12. Hi Keith,

    A fair question. But the issue is whether in the current market (or a future one) you can successfully charge advertisers to reach all of the people who stop by.

    Ever expanding inventory and ever-declining cpms suggest not.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  13. cnoddy
    2 Jul 10
    9:00 pm

  14. wtf is Hopkins on about ? The Aust was updating its site during the day starting with the first online editor Peter Wilson in 1999. As for the iPad feedback comments, he’s partially right: there has been a lot of feedback but about 80pc has been negative. Meanwhile Nick and editorial will continue their current level of influence over the amount of ad inventory and its placement – which is absolutely NO influence at all.

  15. Keith
    2 Jul 10
    9:18 pm

  16. Mr Mumbrella,

    I’m truly humbled by the reply.

    …. Interesting point. However, what’s the bet “The Times” is free again in 3-6 months’ time?
    Anyway, it’s not free. It’s like commerical TV – I get to watch the content but I have to sit through the ads.
    That said, websites are costly buggers to produce, so to be fair to Murdoch, why shouldn’t he charge for them?
    The problem too for newspapers (in Australia) isn’t all the readers migrating online, it’s all the classified ads migrating online.
    And there’s still plenty of life in print yet. I don’t see newspapers falling over any time soon. This may be slightly off the point but take the recently-launched Masterchef magazine, It sold 250,000 copies and had close to a mill in ads. Online just can’t match that! Saturday’s Herald with all its sections and magazine pisses on
    We recently saw the launch of the much vaunted ipad. I believe 150 Sydneysiders camped out over night to get one. 150 people? On the same day over a million Australians bought a print publication. Let’s not get too embroiled in the hype. Just yet anyway.

  17. Keith
    2 Jul 10
    9:19 pm

  18. PS As an experiment, Mumbrella should become paid subscription only. It’d be interesting to see how you fair…

  19. Charge
    3 Jul 10
    6:58 pm

  20. I clicked on to The Times the other day and was greeted with the pay wall. I just went to the Beeb. The BBC must be laughing. In the UK the TV licence funds their set up and for the first time (other than selling their content) they can sell ad’s on their own broadcast…

    The Guardian, Telegraph, BBC and many more will gain numbers as The Times Online demises. We shall see though I might be wrong..?

  21. anon1
    5 Jul 10
    2:42 pm

  22. I second Keith. The Times’ content is too general and not niche or critical enough to get many subscribers at this stage. Maybe later, if and when most otter newspapers have gone paywall. But I doubt they all will. 

    Another, minor issue is the inward sense of revulsion at actually backing Murdoch with ones cash. Passively reading it for free is one thing, actively buying it quite another.

    It’s like the Daily Mail: you find yourself reading it everyday, but you just can’t quite bear to bookmark it. 

  23. Gav
    5 Jul 10
    2:45 pm

  24. The choice is Rupert’s to make – I suspect that the loss in revenue will not be too great from the online advertising, especially when you take into account the selling, running of that as well as how users probably would prefer less advertising.

    1 paid reader is probably worth 500 non-paying – it would be interesting to see the revenue per unique visitor for similar sites over a monthly period.

    Where Rupert has gone wrong, is to introduce this too soon – getting peoples’ email addresses with a simple signup form would’ve introduced a very valuable email database to market to, and almost certainly brought in a good revenue stream.

    I don’t think I’d do it if it were my paper, but compulsory free registrations might still adversely affect traffic, but would give you heaps of revenue from those registrations (Times readers are Times readers, after all).

    The other interesting aside is that they now appear to have blocked all search engine spiders, the articles that do show up will soon not. Meaning that they will soon have next to no presence on teh interweb, and the new user stream will dry up. It seems a shame that after building up that content, links and history to rank highly to turn it all off at night, and probably outweighs any advantage gained from revenue gained/lost by the change, at least in the longer term.

  25. Tom
    6 Jul 10
    12:23 pm


    “Diller, Brill, and Murdoch seem be stating a simple fact—we will have to pay them—but this fact is not in fact a fact. Instead, it is a choice, one its proponents often decline to spell out in full, because, spelled out in full, it would read something like this:

    “Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use, or else we will have to stop making content in the costly and complex way we have grown accustomed to making it. And we don’t know how to do that.””

  27. Arek
    7 Jul 10
    2:25 pm

  28. It is certainly a big experiment for Mr Murdoch and the results should be known within a few months. It can only be declared a success if The Times increases the overall revenue (ie. only if the sum of all revenue streams is greater than the current level). It may be a big challenge because the figures just don’t add up…

    Gav, a couple months ago I did some investigations into revenues from printed vs online assets for Fairfax and I published results on my blog. The bottom line is that in order for paywall strategy to work access fees would have to be huge to cover losses from advertising revenue and/or online advertising revenue per visitor would have to jump several fold to just match current level of online revenue. The strategy will bring losses unless they can sign up millions of paying users… which is a very unlikely scenario (The Wall Street Journal, widely quoted example of pay-for-content success, has just over 1 million paying subscribers in the country with 307 million people). It turns out, the whole media game is exclusively about advertising revenue and not content…