David Prosser: Sky is the key for 'The Times' online

Wednesday 03 November 2010 01:00 GMT

Outlook News Corporation did not provide enough data yesterday for analysts to make an educated assessment of the financial impact so far of putting The Times and The Sunday Times behind the internet paywall. Still, even the most optimistic of fag-packet calculations does not produce a figure for revenue from online sales anywhere near large enough to compensate for the advertising given up because almost nine-tenths of the papers' online audience has vanished.

However, this is but stage one of the process. The slow start the two papers have made to monetising their web editions will energise NewsCorp's bid for full control of Sky. With a 39 per cent stake in the business, NewsCorp has not yet been able to find a way to exploit the potential for bundling Sky's television services in with its online newspapers. Taking full control of Sky would enable it do as it sees fit.

Sky's most recent update revealed it will hit its target of 10 million subscribers in the UK by the end of the year. It is making a success of selling these customers additional services – particularly broadband. With NewsCorp in charge, its online newspapers will be next.

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