The Times and Sunday Times websites have experienced a huge drop in their readership after parent company News Corporation introduced a paywall, requiring readers to subscribe before accessing the content on the site.
As of June 15th, readers were asked to pay either £2 a week or £1 per day to view the sites, an unprecedented move from a UK newspaper.
As expected however, it’s caused a mass exodus of readers from the site. Web stat experts Experian Hitwise have revealed that The Times now only has a 4.16% share of UK online newspaper traffic, compared to 15% before the changes were introduced.
Correlating the Experian Hitwise findings against February 2010’s ABCe readership figures, The Guardian has calculated exactly where The Times Online readership numbers now stand. According to their sums, The Times online has dropped from 1.2 million daily unique visitors to 332,800.
However, those figures could potentially be even lower. Experian Hitwise’s stats include those who visit the site’s homepage but do not proceed beyond the paywall. According to the Experian Hitwise findings, only 25.6 per cent of users proceed to the paid-for area, meaning that in reality The Times now has just a mere 84,500 subscribing readers.
While not a success in the most obvious of terms, News Corporation were expecting a large drop in readers, and had said that a smaller, more loyal readership could be balanced by increasingly targeted advertising campaigns. However, such a significant drop must still have come as quite a shock.
Still, it’s not as though “Mega-Corp” can’t subsidise the losses from elsewhere we suppose…