The Times claims 100k plus subscribers on paywall anniversary – adds 22,000

News International has put out some updated figures detailing how The Times and The Sunday Times paywalls are performing.

Back in March we reported that News International was claiming 79,000 digital subscribers. That figure has risen to just over 100,000 in time for its first birthday. It is a nice round number.

In all The Times and The Sunday Times have 101,036 current, monthly digital subscribers as of the end of June, up from 79,000 at the start of March — that’s an increase of 28%. This includes subscribers to all digital channels: the websites, the iPad and the Kindle.

We also learn that The Times is downloaded onto an average of 35,000 iPads every day, an increase of 40% in the four months since February.

The average for The Sunday Times is 31,000, an increase of 41%. Digital and seven day print subscribers all have access to the iPad edition and this figure also includes those who have subscribed directly through Apple.

News International says that in total there are more than 250,000 joint print/digital and digital-only subscribers to The Times and The Sunday Times at the end of June.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, said: “One year on from launch we have proved that people are willing to pay for quality journalism in digital formats. Many doubted if our digital strategy would be successful, here is unequivocal proof it is moving in that direction.

“We have more committed subscribers than ever before and they are choosing to access our journalism in whatever format suits them best. The growth rate for take up on tablets is moving at pace and we believe this valuable and attractive audience accessing our digital products will continue to grow.”

On the plus side it is progress – 22,000 new subscribers is positive news. The News International paywall strategy is moving forward, but is it as fast as they would like?

In the negative column, as I have said too many times before, I am sure it would be moving forward faster, and winning more subscribers if The Times took an open approach to social media rather than an anti-social media approach, but that is just me.

We’ve seen how important the New York Times thinks this is as it experiments and tweaks its social media putting real people behind its Twitter feed as “experiment” for instance.

In May we learnt in some quarters that News International wasn’t completely happy with its anti-social media paywall policy as we heard it was taking a different approach for The Sun.

  • Graeme

    What do you mean an anti social approach?

    They are always talking about twitter, they have a social media rankings systems which ranks a users social media, they have a page on teh site which lists all teh journalists and their twitter names.

    What would you like them to do?

    add share buttons? well that wonk work beacuse non subscribers will not see teh content, which as all web users know clicking a link which can’t be accessed is a big hinderance.

  • Polly Becker

    Dear Graeme the site is completely closed and no content is available at all if you are not a subscriber! There’s no blog and no share buttons (which indicate conversation and interaction). There are no excerpts – so being on Twitter is only of use to its subscribers. Surely that is why @TheTimesLive has less than 20,000 subscribers. Fail.

  • @gordonmacmillan

    The numbers for the Times are certainly going up, but I completely stand by what i said. Its approach is anti-social media in approach.

    They don’t make their content work hard enough. But don’t take my word for it take the word of others within News Corp.

    The News of the World has a similar paywall up and the Sun was meant to follow suit, but has abandoned that policy. Why? Because they are seeing traffic fall so sharply.

    More? Well what about News Corporation’s Australian titles which are not following the paywall approach adopted by The Times and The New of the world. Instead they are going down a metered road like the WSJ and like the NYT that shares some content, that is open to social media.

    More? Well what about the world’s biggest newspaper The NYT – it says social media is the strength of NY Times not

    More? Okay if you insist. Entertainment title Variety launched a breaking news blog outside of its paywall. Like The Times, Variety has a paywall that hides all of its content, which of course discourages websites from linking or sharing its content.

    “We realize that our paywall has discouraged sites like yours from linking to our content in the past, even when Variety breaks big showbiz stories. Showblitz gives you that way let your users have access to an important source of news — and it also gives you an easy way to monitor a feed of Variety’s exclusives and breaking news.”

  • James Walters

    The thing that strikes me about The Times is that they are making unnecessarily hard for themselves. I don’t see why one would do this.

    Paywalls can be a hard sell, so why not use all the tools that are available? Embrace social media in as many ways as you can to persuade people you have content worthy of payment.

    Having a Twitter feed is not social media. And as Polly said The Times has not been very successful in attracting a large following. I’m surprised that a national newspaper should have fewer than 20,000 followers. Granted some of its star writers have more.

    For me the bottom line has to be this: newspapers need social media, or rather more to the point content needs social media.

  • @gordonmacmillan

    @james Nice line, content needs social media. Couldn’t have put it better.

  • Kagem

    Gordon, isn’t it a good assumption that Times would not win as many subscribers from social media due to the freebie nature of social media?

    If I was looking for paid subscribers, I’d look at email, not social media.

  • @gordonmacmillan

    @kagem Email is very handy, and useful in building subscriber numbers, but I think (to use the old adage) you have to give a little to get a little. And to me that says give some content.

    Whether it is excerpts on a blog outside of the paywall or sharing in some other way.

    I don’t see much Times content being shared any more and i used to see quite a bit.