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Times Paywall In Questionable 'Success' 214

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the for-some-definition-of dept.
takowl writes "It's been a few months since The Times newspaper in the UK (part of the Murdoch stable) hid its online stories behind a paywall. The media watched eagerly to see if people would pay for news online. Now The Times has uncovered its first results: some 105,000 have coughed up online, and another 100,000 print subscribers have access. Naturally, the paper is keen to promote this as a success: some people are willing to pay. The BBC's technology correspondent, on the other hand, reckons: 'it's safe to assume that Times Newspapers has yet to achieve the same revenues from its paywall experiment that were available when its website was free.' Will online subscribers help the Times survive? Will other papers follow its lead?"
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Times Paywall In Questionable 'Success'

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  • BBC vs Murdoch (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mccalli (323026)
    'The BBC's technology correspondent, on the other hand, reckons: "it's safe to assume that Times Newspapers has yet to achieve the same revenues from its paywall experiment that were available when its website was free."'

    No it isn't. It's possible to believe it (and so do I) but it's not safe to assume anything. Data please.

    Cheers,
    Ian
    • Re:BBC vs Murdoch (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ledow (319597) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:05AM (#34099804) Homepage

      Technically accurate. However, the 20+ million pageviews that they have DEFINITELY lost is an awful lot of ad revenue to miss out on. Their paywall statistics include paper-subscribers, trial-subscribers, one-off subscribers, reporters who subscribed so they could accurately report on the new system, etc. so are nowhere near 200,000 "regular subscribers" at £1 / day or £2 / week (so assume £10 a month per person on average, for 75,000 actual online users to be really generous? 750k a month? What do Google ads pay for 20+ million pageviews a month? I'm guessing as much, if not more, and the paper in question always commanded some extraordinarily high advertising rates because of its readership).

      It *sounds* to me like "Look, we were right, it works!" when in fact it's more of a "It wasn't a complete loss, for our particular (high-earning) readership, at the start, if we count all our paper subscribers who get it free anyway, and we have no idea what'll happen next year." It's doubtful that any other papers could or would follow this model, at that was much more of the point of this exercise - it was an attempt to "normalise" online-paywalls as the access for a newspaper.

      • Re:BBC vs Murdoch (Score:5, Informative)

        by jonbryce (703250) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:44AM (#34100128) Homepage

        There are 105,000 paying subscribers. The rest are print subscribers who get free access to the website. Half of the paying subscribers use the iPad App at £10 per month less Apple's commission. From what I can see they are making about £10m per year in subscription revenue less billing costs compared to £22m in advertising revenue previously.

        • by horza (87255) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:41AM (#34101380) Homepage

          He has a mailing list of 105,000 gullible customers, who will pay money when they can get a superior product for free elsewhere.

          That list alone must have some value!

          Phillip.

      • Re:BBC vs Murdoch (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @10:09AM (#34100366)
        His newspapers bleed money anyway and are probably worth less in total than the money Murdoch made a few months ago from selling a Chinese TV network. Any money made at all from the paywall sites is just a byproduct of a game to make it look as if the BBC, Google etc are stealing from him and destroying jobs.
    • From the BBC's own article, they were expecting to lose 90% of their visitors, and they only lost 87%. This means that their revenue is 30% higher than they expected, and presumably they would not have done this if they had not expected to be profitable. As I recall, they needed to retain something like 5% to match their previous income, so it sounds like the paywall has increased their revenue.
      • Re:BBC vs Murdoch (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ledow (319597) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:12AM (#34099848) Homepage

        It's not as simple as that.

        Someone who, for one single day, paid £1 to view one single article to see how it worked is classed the same as someone who has a regular paper subscription for the last 30 years (because paper subscribers get online subscriptions for free), who is classed the same as someone who specifically signed up to the online version only, etc.

        £1 a day, £2 a week, and lots of variations in between. The number of "subscribers" is irrelevant - it's the type and price of those subscriptions and their regularity. Besides, I expect the majority of their first "four months" published income to be heavily biased towards the first month... they might have made a complete loss for the three after that! Give it a year, see if they are still operating the same system.

      • Re:BBC vs Murdoch (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mSparks43 (757109) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:37AM (#34100038) Homepage Journal

        Actually, Its much funnier than that.
        ->unique visitors to its front page

        only 100,000 went beyond that.
        21million
        to
        100,000
        means they lost 99.53% of their readers

        And for those not in the UK, they've been slamming adverts on TV asking people to join, but we all know its google these days that drive visitors, and they've all but vanished from that.
        Once you factor in attrition I'll give them 12 months left to live.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          So in other words this was a rousing success and he should perhaps extend the model to everything else he does. We'll be rid of the wicked bastard within the year.
    • by Osrin (599427) *

      Indeed, the data would be interesting - I suspect that it will show less income, but will also could potentially show considerably less cost. For Murdoch it will be profitability that matters, not revenue.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        It costs the same to get Jeremy Clarkson to write a weekly column whether 1 person reads it or 22 milion people read it. Hosting costs are not that great in comparison.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      'The BBC's technology correspondent, on the other hand, reckons: "it's safe to assume that Times Newspapers has yet to achieve the same revenues from its paywall experiment that were available when its website was free."' No it isn't. It's possible to believe it (and so do I) but it's not safe to assume anything. Data please. Cheers, Ian

      Since we seem to be playing "prime pedant" I should point out that neither you, the OP or I will be in any personal danger from making that assumption.

      • Since we seem to be playing "prime pedant" I should point out that neither you, the OP or I will be in any personal danger from making that assumption.

        And purely because we're playing pedant -- I almost feel ashamed to post this but...

        it should be neither .... nor

        I agree with the original sentiment BTW

        • by digitig (1056110)
          Well, if we absolutely must have a pedantry thread, somebody is going to have to point out that "neither" shouldn't be used when there are more (or, indeed, fewer) than two possibilities, so it shouldn't be neither/or or neither/nor. "Not you, the OP, or I" might be the safest construction.
    • by martijnd (148684)

      The BBC is going to feel the heat in a much different way.

      Publishers (eg. Murdoch) have been trying to roast the Beeb for competing unfairly with them online and they might have just been handed a stick.

      Over the water in the Netherlands the newly installed Dutch government has stated that its undesirable for publicly funded broadcasters in the Netherlands to be competing with commercial publishers on the Internet. It wants to take this to the logical conclusion and shut down websites maintained by the vario

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      their viewership now is quite low, the assumption is that they're missing out so much on daily pageviews that the 100 000 people who subscribed for a day or week don't offset that.
      the bbc correspondent did that analysis and made that statement - making him more than a copy pasting puppet like many journalists nowadays are.

      what's the risk in doing this assumption and living by it? none, really, unless you're a newspaper who wants to emulate what they did and don't do it because their 'success' seems like it

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Let's read carefully - some 105,000 have coughed up online, and another 100,000 print subscribers have access.

      So, we can probably assume that 5 thousand people have actually signed up, since they may be counting the 100k print subscribers in the 105k who are "paid for online", since paying for the paper = online access, correct?

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @08:58AM (#34099752) Homepage

    ...nothing of value was lost.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      I dunno, I used to read Jeremy Clarkson's column...

    • ...nothing of value was lost.

      That depends on who his readers are and where their influence will be most felt.

      The WSJ is an early and successsful example of a paywall. The WSJ was merged into News Corp in 2007. The newspaper or magazine that is considered a must-read by decision makers in business and government is never safe to ignore.

      • And everyone else in the news business assumes that they can do it profitably because the WSJ did it. Yet the WSJ is the exception that proves the rule. The WSJ is about the only news source that gives you greater depth than any of the AP stories that all the other newspapers publish. There aren't any other newspapers that are must-read, so why would any others be profitable behind a paywall?

      • by nbauman (624611) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:19AM (#34101016) Homepage Journal

        WSJ was a unique newspaper. They were publishing unbiased, reliable, useful news, which is why so many people (including me) were willing to pay any reasonable price for it, certainly $150 a year. I don't think you say that about any other Murdoch publication (and I'm not sure you can say that about the WSJ any more). I'm not going to pay $150 a year (or anything) for right-wing propaganda.

        The WSJ's news was as objective as humanly possible. Their news department had an independence from the advertising department and the publisher's personal causes that was legendary. The far right editorial page was a useful cover for reporters who were free to tell it like it is. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,956896,00.html [time.com]

        For example, when General Motors threatened to withdraw all their advertising from the WSJ if they printed a story GM didn't like, the WSJ told GM to go fuck themselves. It was a long time, after GM finally came crawling back, before the WSJ let them advertise again.

        The New York Times in contrast used to print puff pieces on for example the auto industry, because they were big advertisers, and the publisher used to promote his or her pet causes all the time. See Gay Talese's "The Kingdom and the Power" or Robert Moses' "The Power Broker."

        Rupert Murdoch was willing to tell any lie, break any promise, or betray any trust to get a reputation for integrity. That's how he bought the WSJ.

        Unfortunately, since Murdoch bought it, not only the integrity but the quality has gone down. In my reading, they don't always give both sides of the story they way they used to, doesn't always have the depth it used to, and now has a Republican tilt. According to the NYT, one of Murdoch's new editors in the Washington bureau was cutting out paragraphs that were favorable to Democrats and unfavorable to Republicans. You want me to pay for that?

    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @10:03AM (#34100316)

      Indeed, even if it is profitable, then it's still a plus that there's 87% less people reading that crap.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sorak (246725)

        I wonder how the contributors feel about this. I'm not too familiar with the times, but here in the U.S., we seem to be in the era of "synergy". Bill O'Reilly hosts a talk show every night. Once he built up a large audience of viewers, he signed a lucrative contract to host a radio show. Now, many of his night-time viewers will also listen, and much of the research that went into his night-time show can also carry over to the daytime show. Then, every year or two, he takes the research and opinions that he

    • by DrXym (126579)
      The Times is a very readable newspaper and generally kept its "opinion" to the editorials where it belonged. The problem I see is that there is nothing special about it. Lots of news sites are readable and a lot of news is recycled PA / Reuters agency stuff anyway. Of the remainder, it's still just reporting the same news that every other news outlet is reporting on. Unless you advidly had to do the Times crossword or read the letters page or the bridge column or whatever else remains then what distinguishe
  • Another question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @08:58AM (#34099754) Homepage Journal

    How many of these people are going to pay again?

    • by jimicus (737525)

      How many of these people are going to pay again?

      At £2/week, I wonder how many simply won't notice the money leaving their bank account for some time.

  • From TFA:

    These figures very clearly show that large numbers of people are willing to pay for quality journalism in digital formats

    If 0.1% of a country being willing to pay for it can be considered a success for a major newspaper..

    • Arg, I'm tired.. I meant to comment on the "large numbers" not being so large.
    • Compare it with print circulation figures [wikimedia.org]. Only three have more than a million readers. This means that they have about 20% of their paper readers also using the web site, and another 20% exclusively online readers, on top of their print readership. Sounds like a pretty large number to me.
    • How many people used to read it before? That's the only real measure of success, and we're not being told.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jonbryce (703250)

        22 million people used to read it before.

      • by digitig (1056110)

        How many people used to read it before? That's the only real measure of success

        Er, no. Net profit is the only real measure of success. Murdoch also wants the political influence, no doubt, but I don't think that can be measured by anything as simple as the number of readers.

  • Again, just post a Donate button on your website, whatever it is. Those who use it and have lots of disposable income can donate.
    • by Pojut (1027544)

      Indeed. The kind of person that would be willing to legitimately get passed a paywall would quite likely be willing to donate, should a button be tastefully integrated into the main site.

      Maybe I have a too much faith in humanity, but I like to think this would be the case...

      • by digitaldc (879047) *
        And those with millions of dollars who enjoy the site can easily donate 5,000 dollars and it won't hurt them a bit. It will balance out those who have little or nothing and use it for free.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by crimperman (225941)

          Yes because there is a history of those with a lot of money being prepared to give any of it away

          • by digitaldc (879047) *
            But how is poor Rupert Murdoch going to survive without generating a profit from his online news websites?
      • by N1AK (864906)
        Maybe I have too little faith in humanity, but I like to think that if businesses could make big money by letting people donate then they'd be doing it already. I expect new sources to provide content that requires greater paid resource to produce than Slashdot.
        • by horza (87255)

          I don't know if they still do it, but when I was in London the newspapers were stacked next to a coin bin. This way a busy commuter can just pick up the paper and would be expected to throw the appropriate amount in. Seemed to be doing ok when I was there.

          Phillip.

      • Indeed. The kind of person that would be willing to legitimately get passed a paywall would quite likely be willing to donate, should a button be tastefully integrated into the main site.

        Maybe I have a too much faith in humanity, but I like to think this would be the case...

        I disagree - not because of lack in faith in humanity, but because the benefit is much reduced. Instead of getting an ad- and (hopefully) third-party-ad-host-tracking-free experience, such a donation would only make the donor feel better while getting nothing tangible in returns. That means that you're limited strictly to the people paying for altruistic reasons, which reduces your pool of donors considerably from the already-small pool of people willing to pay for a subscription.

  • by bbtom (581232) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:02AM (#34099780) Homepage Journal

    I haven't had any reason to read the Times since nobody links to their articles any more. And since I have no reason to read the Times, I haven't had any reason to pay for it.

    Because of the very negative political effects that Murdoch's money and influence is having both here (where The Sun newspaper has become a kingmaker in British politics and in the US and other countries), I rather object to giving money to Murdoch's companies. I'm very glad we have stopped paying for Sky, for instance - there's enough crap to watch on Freeview/Freesat without paying £40 a Murdoch to watch repeats littered with adverts.

    Save democracy: starve the Murdoch beast!

    • paying £40 a Murdoch to watch

      40/Murdoch? Cheap at half the price!

    • I haven't had any reason to read the Times since nobody links to their articles any more. And since I have no reason to read the Times, I haven't had any reason to pay for it.

      The Times remains the leading financial paper in the U.K. - as the WSJ - also News Corp - remains the leading financial paper in the U.S. You may not be reading the WSJ and Times - but some very big decisions are made by those who do.

       

    • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:15AM (#34100950)
      Indeed, he damages every market he enters. I do think that the US needs rules on media ownership precisely to prevent corporations like Newscorp from having an undue influence on politics. There's been way too much consolidation of media outlets and it's really hurt politics.
    • Anyone who buys anything from Ruppert Murdoch is just committing suicide slowly. Its easy to spot them. First they seem normal, reasonable, then after awhile they become cranky, angry and judgmental, then then the mental decline steps in and they become incoherent, confused and their morals deteriorate. Its just down hill from there. Their future has been taken from them and they never quite figured it out.

  • No longer relevant (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:04AM (#34099796)

    About a billion people are more or less on the internet. That being 1e9.
    The Times count it a success that 1e5 or so people signed up.
    Only about 1 in 10000 people even theoretically can access their site.
    Not very impressive.

    I suppose other newspapers could try to "compete" by shutting off their webservers 99.999% of the time.
    Another way to compare, is TV shows get canceled when their market viewer share drops to something like a hundred times the Times market share.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bbtom (581232)

      Is that the right analogy though? Sure, if a advertising-funded (or, in Britain, a license-fee-payer-funded) show gets a small audience share, then it may get taken off air.

      But I imagine that some of the porno channels that you have to pay a subscription for don't get many viewers. But so long as the viewers they have are paying enough to fund their whole operation, they don't really give a shit that they aren't getting the same number of viewers as Prison Break or whatever. (Same for premium non-porno chan

      • by ledow (319597)

        And if "Naughty Nymphos 2" pulls in a hundred times as many subscribers as "Old grannies 52", does that mean they'd keep both?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by lxs (131946)

          If they are up to 52, it must be a winning formula.

        • by bbtom (581232) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:32AM (#34100002) Homepage Journal

          The point that vlm was making was that since such a small proportion of the Internet is subscribed to The Times, it must be a failure.

          Getting 100,000 subscribers online is - if true - no bad thing. The top-selling broadsheet (Daily Telegraph) in Britain has a daily circulation of 691k. The Times itself has a 508k circulation. vlm is wrong to compare the subscriber numbers to the Internet as a whole: instead, you need to compare it with the UK broadsheet market. Because, really, all they need to do is cover their costs online. Anything else is profit, since they already have an existing offline newspaper business.

          The problem is that it is doubtful whether they have got 100,000 subscribers: someone spending £1 trying out the paywall for a day is not necessarily someone who will then continue paying.

          To see whether or not it has turned out to be a success, we need to wait until there are figures counting the subscribers once things have settled down and compare them with their own business objectives. It's a business: subscriber numbers don't matter, profit matters.

        • by digitig (1056110)
          Yes, they just put "Naughty Nymphos 2" on at prime time and "Old Grannies 52" on at past-prime time.
      • by vlm (69642)

        Is that the right analogy though?

        I was aiming more for the idea that the chattering classes don't talk about failed TV shows which are hundreds of times more popular than paying for The Times online.

        Its possible to make profitable things which appeal to almost no one.

        Much as I'm sure the Times will rapidly discover, its possible to make a profitable online newspaper that almost no one bothers to read.

        • by bbtom (581232)

          Oh, okay, that is a problem. Part of what makes a newspaper successful is being influential and widely-discussed. It certainly may stop being that by being behind a paywall. And if bloggers and social media users can't link to it, getting younger readers is going to be harder.

          I have a funny feeling that the Times will not stop being influential offline though. It still has the status of being the 'paper of record' in Britain. It may actually end up being profitable, influential and read by almost no one. Wh

    • by dbIII (701233)

      About a billion people are more or less on the internet

      And Rupert Murdoch was there on the internet making money from some of them in 1992.
      We can't just write him off as a dinosaur.

    • My local news web site probably has viewership of less than 100,000/day - insignificant by your numbers, and yet they provide community members with [sometimes] valuable information.

      If we measured success by the percentage of all internet traffic received, you'd have a handful of "successful" sites while the rest would be capturing less than 1%. Instead, they're measuring by revenue which seems to make just a bit more sense - since they're in it for the money and not for being able to boast numbers.

  • Terry Jones has called off his plans to burn a copy of The Times [newstechnica.com] at Ground Zero tomorrow, after the paywall caught alight for half an hour on Friday afternoon.

    Jones had planned to burn The Times because, he claimed, Rupert Murdoch would not rest until he had paywalled all of Google, including the remarkably lucrative Monty Python channel on YouTube. However, he was "rethinking" his plans after approximately everyone in the whole world suggested that just because it was legal might not actually make it a very good idea.

    "We have made a deal with the thirty-three journalists still trapped down in the newspaper," he said. "They will come out and Caitlin Moran will publicly recant her idiot piece from a few months ago about what an excellent idea the paywall was and how enormously pleased she was to be stuck behind it. Oh, didn't you read that?"

    The journalists have been trapped down the shaft since the first of July, and are being dribbled readers through a straw to keep them alive and focused and make them think there's a point to being there.

    "Of course, failing a recantation there will be a paywall conflagration that reaches the skies. All those lovely theoretical readers disappearing in a cloud of soot and cement dust! But I'm sure it'll hardly be noticed and no-one will be upset."

    The "newspaper" was an ancient form of information distribution using cellulose pulp from crunched-up trees. It was popular in the early days of Google, when users would send written requests to the company enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope and receive a reading list to take to their library, with an advertising flyer also enclosed.

    • by rossdee (243626)

      Is this the same Terry Jones that used to be in Monty python? He's done some very good documentaries on the middle ages and barbarians and such.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Terry Jones has called off his plans to burn a copy of The Times [newstechnica.com] at Ground Zero tomorrow, after the paywall caught alight for half an hour on Friday afternoon.

      Jones had planned to burn The Times because, he claimed, Rupert Murdoch would not rest until he had paywalled all of Google, including the remarkably lucrative Monty Python channel on YouTube.......

      Thank God he called it off. There would have been Hooraah Henry's rioting in the streets, shouting "Death to Britain" and all sorts of chaos. Of course it would have all been Terry's fault because you can't expect the upper crust (the class of Peace) keep self control.

    • Allan Snackbar! Allan Snackbar! Behead Terry Jones! Allan Snackbar!
  • by Rivalz (1431453) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:15AM (#34099878)

    I think it is natural that the media conglomerates built on the old publish and distribute business plan are going to have to compete directly against the journalists they normally employ.
    Cost of publishing is now next to nothing, cost of distribution is now next to nothing. So what services does a Media company like The Times offer it's employee's to entice them from not competing directly against the company?
    Forget about people not being willing to pay for a daily dose of articles that they may not ever read. That shouldn't be concerning Media Moguls. What should be worrying them is what is going to stop their talent from a mass exodus and compete against the company.

    • by fermion (181285)
      When people deride Murdoch, they do so because much of what he does is opinion, not journalism. This is analogous with writing a coherent story as opposed to putting some fools on stage and letting them act like fools. One require thoughtful inquiry or analysis or reflection, the other requires...nothing.

      The media outlets that survive will fulfill a need, either journalism, titilation, or vouyerism. The problem is that the later two are very easy to produce, and in the new media will not support a larg

    • It mainly gives them a name which grants them access to people they would otherwise not get access to. If you call up the prime ministers office and triy to schedule an interview your chances are a lot higher if you say you are from th e Times than if you say y ou are some internet blogger. Whil bloggers certainly can, and do, get audiences with important people its rare and for the most part their fame is non-transferable.
    • by jfruhlinger (470035) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @09:56AM (#34100244) Homepage

      News organizations provide a lot more "value" to reporters than just physical distribution. There is a whole editorial infrastructure in place to make the stories better -- fact checkers and copy editors to make sure the stories are well-written and not wildly off-base, and assignment editors whose job is to have sense of what the big stories are nudge reporters in the right directions. Many of these support editors have decades of experience in the region being covered, know the people who need to be called, can connect a current story with longer-term themes, etc.

      Then there's the ad sales people whose existence helps insulate the journalists from potential conflicts of interest (if you're both reporting and selling ads, are you objective and believable?). And of course there's the fact that a large news organization is a pool of capital that allows news reporters to draw a steady paycheck/get benefits rather than just living ad sale to ad sale, which helps convince journalists to remain journalists instead of getting into a more lucrative line of work.

      Journalism is changing and should change radically in the coming years. And in fact in the drive to cut costs many news organizations have been removing just the sort of infrastructure I described (which strikes me as silly because it's what differentiates them from dude-with-a-blog competiton). But to say that the only thing a news org offers to a journalist is "distribution" is silly.

      • by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:03AM (#34100820)

        You missed an important one - news organizations also provide legal departments (good and bad). Bad in that legal sometimes quashes stories unnecessarily. But good in that they often will take a stand and publish something that could get them in hot water but legally in the clear.

        Lone wolf reporters can easily get swamped with all sorts of lawsuits - despite anti-SLAPP and shield laws. Enforcing either takes lawyers and lots of money. And between paying for lawyers and having to attend court, it could easily put a reporter out of business.

        Anyhow, I don't believe this story. They may have 100,000 paying subscribers, but they probably charged the same rates for the ads as they did when they were free. So they effectively earned 100,000 subscriptions without losing any money. Let's see the numbers after ad rates have been adjusted. Advertisers aren't stupid and they're tracking these things as well. It would be interesting to see if the subscribers have a higher click-through rate or not, and what advertisers are demanding for their dollar.

    • A newspaper may, in the end, make money largely through advertising, and to a lesser extent from subscriptions. Economy of scale has a lot of importance here - bit companies will be tens of thousands for a large, well placed advertisement.

      How is the "talent" supposed to make money without the newspaper? A few click-throughs on a couple of Google ads are not going to replace the salary paid by a newspaper or magazine.

    • by Combatso (1793216)
      float money.. you need a lot of bread, and some press credentials to get to the story... real news isnt just a link to some other story with your personal spin on it... Lois Lane needs Perry to pay for her plane tickets when the Eiffel Tower is under siege..
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      What might happen is a lot of people get together to aggregate their web advertising and subscriptions so that instead of trying to get people to pay $0.001 to read something they can instead pay $1 to read a bunch of different things.

      If you look at this carefully, you discover that this "aggregation" is what a Media Company is.

      Of course, there is a simpler Obama-esque model that is also possible. You have to register with the government to publish anything and the government then pays you. Everything is

    • Death will come with the advent of HTML5, when text and video can be inserted into Webpages that could look every bit as good as any publication, while being "published" by the kid next door, who chances are is much smarter, although certainly a lot less rich, than Ruppert Murdoch.

  • Whatever I think of The Times Or Murdoch himself, I'm glad that it's a success. Why? Because in the future, it gives not just big publishers, but small websites a chance in the future to earn through another channel (through nano/micro payments) rather than rely on advertising all the time.

    And yes, it's stuff like that can help get rid of adverts. I suppose very few of the people who hate the idea of a low-cost paywall actually own a website which they at least update from time to time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ledow (319597)

      If you can't make money from ads, product endorsement, commission links and other things online (including companies directly approaching you trying to outbid your entire Google ad revenue), or your data isn't incredible precious and expensive (e.g. Ordnance Survey), you ain't *gonna* make money with charging to view a website. If you do, you could have made a LOT more by doing it another way. I'm not suggesting that The Times should team up with Cafepress and make a Times T-shirt, but the basic rule is t

    • The problem is that paywalls are only good if you're a frequent reader of a particular news site, but many people on the web aren't. They use aggregators, like Google News, Slashdot, Digg, Twitter, Facebook, etc, and access individual articles from those services.

      Now if in a week they access 20 articles from different sources, and they all cost 2 pounds / week like The Times, that ends up to 160 pounds ($255) per month.

      What will happen if the major news sites are paywalled is that some news sites will popup

  • Under Firefox I get Times Error [imageshack.us], under Chrome I get the registration page ..
  • Every website is critically dependent on search results to push traffic to them. The day after google takes a dislike to you, you may as well shut the doors, fire all the staff and go home - you're dead, Jim.

    By moving to a subscription model a lot of this dependency on the capriciousness of one single, search engine with less than transparent business practices has been removed - or at least hugely reduced. That in itself has got to be worth something in terms of hardening your company against unwelcome w

    • by ledow (319597)

      Google isn't the only search engine - and blocking access from Google alone is stupidly simple. Hell, do a deal with Bing and give them free advertising in the paper if that's what you're worried about. Chances are, though, that you'll flop enormously still. People miss the fact that NOBODY is stopping someone making a better search engine that provides more relevant results that people want to use - Wolfram Alpha tried to be clever and do it and how many times have you used that in the past year compare

      • by petes_PoV (912422)
        Maybe I didn't make myself clear.

        The problem is that if your site depends on advertising, and eyeballs being pushed to your site from the search engines to view that advertising, then google effectively owns you. If they decide to change their search ranking algorithm - which is famously opaque so you drop off page #1 you're screwed. it's happened to lots of companies in the past and it happens to lots more every day.

        By having an income stream which is independent of advertising revenue, such as a subsc

  • I just deleted my bookmark to the Times (I miss Jeremy Clarkson) and after two seconds of searching found Telegraph.co.uk. Done.
    Times loses.
    BTW with the massive expat community around the world 100,000 subscribers is nothing.
  • Will online subscribers help the Times survive? Will other papers follow its lead? Can bees think? Does asking questions with obvious answers lead to a more interesting article?

    No, yes, no and no, in that order.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.

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