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News of the World has taken down its paywall and opened up its website to all.
The disgraced News International tabloid, the print edition of which will cease to exist from Sunday, introduced a paywall last October, charging readers, who also had to register, for access to content beyond the home page. But the website is now open and fully accessible to all.
A News International source said that while the publisher hasn’t decided how to reimburse News of the World digital subscribers, changes to the digital suite of products were being planned. Current expectation is that a ’Sunday Sun’ will be created, but how this will translate digitally is unclear.
News of the World’s sister title, Fabulous, which operates as a standalone brand edited by Rachel Richardson, will continue in print and online, a News International spokeswoman confirmed.
Earlier this week, before the controversy, another News International source said that News of the World had begun to look at ways to open up its paywall and make it as “flexible” and as “frictionless” as possible. A range of options including Facebook Credits, PayPal and social media were being explored.
Last July, News of the World received 1.1m unique visitors viewing 14m pages for an average of 8.1 minutes a visit, according to ComScore. This figure more than halved as a result of introduction of the paywall.
According to Nielsen figures for May, The Sun had 2.6m unique visitors, down 15% on May 2010. News of the World had 0.6m unique visitors.
About 200 News of the World staff are facing redundancy as a result of the closure of the newspaper, advertisers withdrawing support and the public outcry at the title’s alleged hacking of terrorist and murder victims’ phones.
Ford was the first advertiser to pull its advertising.
The News of the World will print its last edition this Sunday, without any advertising. News International said all sale proceeds will go to charity.
For more on News of the World’s closure, see marketingweek.co.uk