The Times they are a -charging

Murdoch’s NewsCorp will start charging for The Times and Sunday Times at last.

Readers will be offered a day’s use for £1, or £2 for a week’s subscription. Readers who have a seven-day subscription to the print editions will not be charged extra for access to the websites. International pricing has been set at $2/€1.5 a day or $4/€3 for a week.

The Irish Times are launching a subscription based epaper.” in traditional format” and “a move away from a perception of the website as the newspaper on the web for free.”

Pricing for the epaper is on a sliding scale, running from €1.80 for a single day to €9 for one month, €25 for three months and €89 for 12 months.

Does this mean the beginning of the end of the present online access?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, have a new category for this years Slugger Awards
    “best/worst pun in posting headlines”

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s a clear winner DR… 😉

    In answer to Brian, yes. But look at the difference in the scale of charges… a week for the Times, I might pay it but I know an awful lot more who would… the lowness of the threshold is what’s smart about it…

    Hell, even Iain Dale is tempted to follow suite…

    And if he does, we will almost certainly start charging at least for some of our content, if not the whole deal…

  • Mack

    It’s more likely to mean the beginning of the end for these newspapers.

    Anyone without a pay wall to benefit now with increased eyeballs translating to higher ad revenues & loyal times onliners gradually switch to competitors.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I guess the logical way things should go is you pay a flat rate to use the internet, and that amount is distributed to every site you visit according to the amount of time you spend on it. In the mean-time im paying nothing! ( but have made a couple of donations to slugger, not alot but sure its the thought that counts! )

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin


    If you read Iain’s blog, he’s calculated the loss of those readers… and still coming out massively ahead… Let’s just say it is not just papers who’ll be watching Murdoch’s attempt to ‘fight the system’…

  • From the Dale thread:

    “Perhaps it would be a good idea to charge for comments. That way you could avoid threads being blocked up by needless comments such as this.”

    Put it in for the General Elections, Mick, 10p per comment, charge comments arriving from party HQs double and you’ll make a fortune.

    I can see the Times plan working if there are enough interesting opinion pieces being produced on a regular basis…the actual news I’m obviously going to be able to get elsewhere for free. Give it a trial for a week, less than 4 decent articles that I’d print to read on the journey to work, then the subscription doesn’t get renewed.

  • Mack

    Mick / Admin – I’d be interested in seeing that blog entry.

    At one stage AOL were the largest internet company, they charged subscribers and kept their content behind a paywall. Overtime their subscribers drifted away – most of the subscribers were paying for AOL dial up, but they didn’t find the content valuable enough to pay for it. This, via Alleyinsider …

    “This is just the start. The Times and the Sunday Times are the first of our four titles in the UK to move to this new approach. These new sites, and the apps that will enhance the experience, reflect the identity of our titles and deliver a terrific experience for readers. We expect to attract a growing base of loyal customers that are committed and engaged with our titles.”

    Read more:

    The AOL Time Warner experiment and experience would suggest this is doomed to failure. The people reading the Times online but not buying it – won’t start buying it in the shops. A small minority might buy it online, the rest will drift away to free online providers diminishing the brands locked behind paywalls.

    This issue isn’t unique to the media – it affects almost all digital products as the cost of distribution falls to near zero and modern technology reduces the cost of production – even in labour intensive processes (e.g. Open source software canabilising the market for paid software services).

    In a business environment of real world sales of newspapers and advertising are on a downward trend, introducing a paywall is another form of over-monetisation (online examples include plastering far too much advertising all over a website, search results page etc). In the end it’s self defeating..

  • Mack

    I’ve just read his post – I presume it was joke rather than serious business analyses.

    1. If he were to introduce a pay wall on his blog, even if 4% were willing to pay, they may not pay everyday – so 4% 10% of the time. That would give £27k not £270,000.

    2. He’d also not appear in search results.

    So let’s say half his traffic comes via Google. No we’re at £12.5 a year. Oh dear.

    3. He’d not get many incoming links, reblogs etc. His brand awareness would suffer and many users would migrate. That £12.5k income might be good for year 1, but after that you are likely on a downward trend in terms of eyeballs relative to the market size. Oh well, charge more to make up lost ground by charging more!

    4. That’s 4% of resondants, probably less than 1% of all visitors responded. So the actual percentage of visitors who would pay anything at all might be lower, in truth much lower. So £12.5k might only be £1,250 or perhaps £120 or even £12.50

  • joeCanuck

    English businessman visiting west Cork couple of years ago goes into the local newsagent. Following ensued:
    Can I help you sir?
    Yes, I’d like a copy of the Times, please.
    Would that be the Irish Times or London Times?
    (Re-thinking knowing about west Cork history) Irish Times please.
    Would you be wanting today’s paper or yesterday’s paper.
    Ah, today’s paper please.
    In that case Sir, you’ll have to come back tomorrow.

  • articles

    Makes the BBC licence fee even more of a bargain.

    Stand by for even more ferocious assaults on the BBC from Murdoch entities, and even more intensive lobbying of the incoming administration.

  • A bit tangential, but has anyone seen the ‘Sovereign Independent’ yet? I glanced at it up the town here in Derry today and could find very little information about it when I came back. At first I thought, this is obviously Ganley, and then I thought maybe it was Gerry McGeough’s supporters going back into print. It seems to be neither but sails pretty close to the edge and is probably funded by British and American ‘Truthers’ of one type or another. Loads in it about the EU naturally but nothing on the Catholic Church, which would appear an automatic ‘fail’ in a number of ways.

  • Paddy

    An Phoblacht charge for their online content. I guess a few Yanks and ex pat MI5 agents buy it. The Tines is not worth £1 in any format. It used to be a passable paper: early 70s.

    The BBC is my favourite junk news site. I only go to papers with a lead or if I am following up something.
    Let’s see how Rupert gets on here.

  • Once again Mick is using slugger to give powder puffs to his mates, the reason Dale came out with this crap is because he new people would discuss it and it would give him some coverage. Mick you know dam well he is not going to put up a firewall.

    By the way the header is nonsense as the times are not a changing, it is simply more of the same old failed crap, no change there then. I am just waiting for some jerk to say we are going to reform the WWW, leave it alone its fine as it is, if these greedy reactionaries like Murdoch cannot find a way to make cash out of it, they should leave it to those who can.

    Why would anyone pay for what Murdoch has to offer on line? If anyone is keen to put cash in this despicable creatures pocket you might as well buy the paper, or take a subscription for it at two thirds the price, as you will gain access to the web sites.

    Mack is spot on here.

  • wee buns

    @ Souvarine

    yes I came across the ‘Sovereign Independant’ this week amd wondered who funds this. They have a website but nothing on the contributors, no background. I thought the articles about health were worthwhile, and some interesting ecconomic analysis, a lot of ‘new world order’ stuff, but a couple of Kommie Konspiracy tone articles did make me wonder wtf….

  • joeCanuck

    Headline: the times are not a changing

    May I suggest a visit to the optometrist or whatever over there.

  • Same meaning Joe

  • Mack

    I’m not 100% sure about this, so it would be good if someone could confirm or deny.

    I flicked over to Channel4 news this evening – there was a bloke from FT and another guy – who I think was from the Times. The Times guy (I think) was saying that they’re the second largest online newspaper in the world behind the New York Times and their advertising revenues (might just be visitors – but still!) are growing 40% per year! If I’ve got this right – this plan is complete madness.

  • joeCanuck


    Don’t know. But I watched a debate on BBC World last weekend by a panel of news folk (experts?) on the future of the press and not one thought that a paywall was a good idea.

  • Mack

    Ok – it’s not right – maybe he was from the Guardian who have more visitors and are still growing (37 million uniques monthly).

    The Times had almost 20 million unique visitors in December, The Sun had 21 million.

    That’s still growth in 2008 they had just over 16 million unique visitors per month.

    So that’s 41 million uniques. If the average user makes 5 page impressions, and they get an average CPM of £10 that could give an income of around £2,050,000 per month or £24 million per year from online advertising alone.

    That would compare with based on Iain Dale’s assumptions 41million * 12months * £8.67per month * 0.04 (4%) = £170million (in theory) from the pay wall. While I can see the attraction, I think that is highly optimistic and they are risking the future of the brand (particularly internationally where people won’t pick up the paper to read on the train etc). Competitors who can deliver quality journalism profitable for less than £5 or £10 million will eat their lunch.

    They’d be better off if they could figure out a way of keeping most of the content ad supported but charge those who would pay for subscription premium services.