The Times' iPhone app has been out for some time, but the newspaper recently relaunched the app, making it free for a limited period of time.
The newspaper says it now has more than 100,000 digital subscribers, though it doesn't say how many are subscribing via the website or on other platforms such as the Kindle and iPad.
Clearly, The Times hopes that a free preview of the mobile app will convince people to pay the £2 per week subscription when the paywall comes back down.
Yesterday News International announced that “the new digital products for The Times and The Sunday Times have achieved more than 105,000 paid-for customer sales to date." So are these figures good or not? Should other media companies be encouraged by these initial results from Rupert’s great experiment?
I’ve frequently been on record in the past, including on Channel 4 News, saying that I didn’t think Murdoch’s paywall plans were the right way forwards. So should I now be eating humble pie, given that the data and results are now public?
Rupert Murdoch is just getting started with Newcorp.'s digital paywalls. After the (comparatively) great success that The Wall Street Journal has had charging for its website, Murdoch is looking to get more revenue for the company's other digital properties. First to go behind a paywall was The London Times.
It may be too early to tell, but if the first two weeks results are any indication, charging for general interest publications is going to be a hard sell.
Media companies are experimenting with new business models all over the web. But this month, The London Times learned that even just asking for registration details can pretty steeply shrink audience numbers. According to Hitwise, The Times' registration page — for the paper's free content — dropped its market share by half.
For publishers looking for more than just an email address from readers, there is reason to be wary.
According to Arianna Huffington, writing for her website takes as much energy as lying on the couch to watch TV. Speaking at the CMSummit in New York, Huffington explained that people write for her website for fun and don't need to be paid.
As she says:
"Self-expression has become the new entertainment."
So much for the future of paid journalism. But at least she's consistent. As much as Huffington doesn't think writing on her site is worth paying for, she doesn't think readeres will be willing to pay either.
With the future of paid content online anyone's guess, the publishing world eagerly anticipates news on The New York Times' paywall. Announced in January, we still have months to go before the paper unveils its official metered model. But executives have been giving hints. And today, Times chairman Arthur Suzlberger let the audience at CM Summit know that his newspaper is not above following the business model of low grade drug dealers: give people a few hits and then get them to pay.
However, it sounds like The Times is smartly going to follow an age old newspaper trick as well: let a few people get access for free.
Gerd Leonhard is CEO of The Futures Agency, and has been described as "one of the leading media futurists in the world" for his views on the development of next-generation business models in the content, communications & technology industries.
He will be giving one of the keynote speeches at Econsultancy's Future of Digital Marketing event on June 16.
I've been speaking to Gerd (he can be found on Twitter here) about his upcoming keynote, as well as his views on the Times paywall and the future of the music industry.
The New York Times announced plans to charge for web access to its content earlier this year, but it looks like Rupert Murdoch's plan to "institute fair pricing for digital journalism" is going to beat Schulzberger to the punch. Today News Corp. announced that U.K. properties The Times and Sunday Times will go behind a paywall in June.
News Corp. has wisened to the fact that paid models need to offer added value. The Times' paid sites will have extra features to get the audience "to be part of it." The question is, will customers buy into it?
A warning to publishers contemplating paywalls: Newsday.com has gotten exactly 35 new subscribers since putting its content behind a paywall in October. As The New York Observer points out, that's the number of students in an average size elementary school class.
That doesn't sound like an acquisition rate that's going to save newspapers. And while Newsday's management strategy may not be typical, that number should send shivers through the heart's of local general interest publications.
If 2010 is really going to be "The Year of the Paywall" as The Economist predicted this month, The Wall Street Journal is set to be the year's poster child. Rupert Murdoch's business paper made waves — and headlines — in 2009 for increasing readers and profits behind a paywall. But if Murdoch's slights against Google over the past few months are serious and he takes the paper's articles off the search engine, The Journal's fortunes could quickly about face.
In an interview with MedaShift today, Alan Murray, the Journal's deputy managing editor, suggests that the Journal may have found a escape hatch from Google's stranglehold on search: social media.