Paywalls fail to dent audiences for News and Fairfax

NeislenNews Corp Australia and Fairfax Media’s online audiences appear to have remained strong, despite both implementing paywalls in recent months.

The latest Nielsen Online Ratings show that the order of the top 10 Australian news websites has barely changed since News implemented a metered paywall, on the Telegraph and Herald Sun websites, in May while rivals Fairfax introduced paywalls, on the SMH and Age’s websites, in June.

The SMH and The Age have both maintained or grown their audience in July compared with previous months, in May they had audiences of 2.7m and 2m respectively. The insight into Fairfax’s online audience comes a day after Fairfax revealed it had so far registered 68,000 paid digital subscribers.

News Corp websites The Herald Sun and Telegraph also appear not to have lost audience significantly from the unique audiences of 1.7m and 1.1 m in May. News last month revealed that so far it had around 50,000 digital subscribers to its tabloid news websites, plus an additional 50,000 people who subscribed to The Australian’s “freeium” paywalled website.

Nielsen’s July video census also show a rebound in News Corp’s video traffic which was back up to a unique audience of 1.783m. Last month, Mumbrella revealed how the audience measurement company recorded a sudden collapse in News’s video views following the introduction of the paywall with views going from 2.083m to 1.038m from May to June.

The rebound comes after News worked with Nielsen to ensure all its video streams were included in the video census. “The latest numbers do correlate with our internal numbers. We are still looking at last month’s anomaly and talking it through with Nielsen,” said a News Corp Australia spokesman.

“We are happy with traffic since the launch of news+ it has broadly been in line with our expectations,” he said.

A Fairfax Media spokesman said: “The early reaction to the launch of our metered subscriptions has been better than we had hoped, with acquisitions running well ahead of targets. The July unique audience figures show that, as we had predicted, the introduction of the metered model has had no discernible impact on our web audience.”

“We continue to closely monitor the reactions of our most loyal readers as they encounter the meter, but it’s  evident that the quality and breadth of our coverage continues to attract, engage and encourage the largest and most sought-after digital audience in Australia.”

Nielsen’s Online Ratings, which measure the unique audience of the major news websites, showed that the top 10 Australian websites remained broadly the same in July with the only change being that moved from third to second in terms of largest audience. retained its top position, a position it has held since May.

The Guardian had an Australia audience, across all its websites, of 1.16m up from 1.02m last month and ranking it in 12th place in the overall news rankings. The newspaper’s Australian editor Kath Viner last month complained that Nielsen’s numbers under represented The Guardian’s overall Australian audience.

Nic Christensen 


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