Paywall set to cost The Times 90% of readers; NI boss says job on the line
Research out today says The Times and its sister Sunday paper could lose more than 90% of their online audience as News International erects its “anti-social media” paywall.
It is a huge figure and a great loss of traffic. I wrote yesterday about it could severely restrict the sharing of content of Times content as the paper becomes unable to pursue a social media strategy, but instead is left with an anti-social media one instead – as you can not share what is not publicly available. This report seems to drive that home.
The study by media law firm Wiggin came just as Brand Republic yesterday reported the comments of News International’s commercial leader, Paul Hayes, who said that his neck could be on the line if the publisher’s paywall plans fail.
“If [the paywall] doesn’t work then I’m in the shit,” said Hayes. “I think that if it doesn’t work we face a future of less good media.”
The Wiggin research follows comments made by The Sunday Times editor John Witherow who admitted during a BBC Radio 4 debate earlier this month that the move would decimate the Times’ online readership by “easily” more than 90%.
At the same time he argued it would be “perilous” to continue to rely totally on online advertising revenues.
In yet more research by Entertainment Media Research 90% (is 90% the new magic number?) said they would be unwilling to pay £1 a day or £2 a week for online content. Just 9% said they would pay.
Co-incidentally, this morning I spoke to a Times columnist who said that they were “not that hopeful” about what would happen to their work once the paywall went live.
They cited the lack of ability to share content as one of the biggest road blocks.