105,000 scale Times titles' digital paywall

News Corporation reported 105,000 online sales of The Times and The Sunday Times yesterday as it published the first official figures since taking the controversial step of putting its website's content behind a paywall.

Officials at the newspaper group said they were pleased with the number of paid-for customers since the paywall was implemented in June. Yet analysts were less bowled over by the figures, saying they left "the same old questions". Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, which produces the papers, hailed their digital performance, saying: "These figures very clearly show that large numbers of people are willing to pay for quality journalism in digital formats.

"It is early days, but renewal rates are encouraging and each of our digital subscribers is more engaged and more valuable to us than very many unique users of the previous model."

Yet critics pointed out that 105,000 digital sales in four months was hardly a stellar performance. Before becoming paid-for, the number of unique monthly users of the websites was more than five million. Those who subscribe to the papers have access to the website included in the deal and about 100,000 have activated digital accounts so far. "As a result, the total paid audience for digital products is close to 200,000," said News International's parent company, News Corporation.

Douglas McCabe, of Enders Analysis, said: "The numbers aren't great, but then they could have been worse. The announcement still leaves you with a lot of the same old questions."

News Corp's statistics did not break out pure web subscriptions from those customers who use The Times's Apple iPad application or have the content delivered to Kindle e-readers.

Other questions included the effect of discounting on the numbers, as well as how many subscribers left after the offer of £1 for the first 30 days expired. News Corp did reveal that half of its digital customers subscribe monthly, including those that have signed up to iPad app or Kindle edition. The rest are either "single copy" readers or pay-as-you-go. The company charges £1 for a day's access or £2 for a week.

James Harding, editor of The Times, said it was "early days" before adding: "We are hugely encouraged by what we've seen." Those who sign up for a trial, tend to convert into fully paid subscriptions, Mr Harding said, although he did not provide specific figures.

"The number of people buying The Times is on the rise," he claimed. "The iPad has changed the way we are doing our journalism."

There were an estimated 30,000 subscribers to the The Times's app and Kindle version, which was much better than expected. However, the first two months of the app were free.

Mr McCabe said the iPad app "looks the strongest part of the news and is a real positive for the group". He pointed out that advertising would have taken a hit, but those who paid would be more valuable to advertisers and The Times would have valuable data about its subscribers.

The subscription figures were below estimates from the research group Nielsen last month. It said about 362,000 people had accessed the Times's website every month between July and September and the site's front page had received 1.7 million hits.

Mr Harding was adamant that his titles had employed the right strategy, telling Radio 4's Today programme: "We had engaged in a quite suicidal form of economics, which was giving our journalism away for free."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own