News International ditches paywall idea for The Sun
I wrote earlier this year that News International was rethinking its anti-social media paywall policy with regards whether it would introduce a paywall for the Sun modelled on the one employed by The Times.
It had intially been reported that The Sun would follow in the footsteps of the News of the World, which saw its traffic plummet after its paywall went live, but that turned out to be the least of its problems.
However, with the NotW dead, cause of death phoning hacking not paywalls, it is being reported that News International has decided against introducing a paywall for The Sun’s website period.
There had been talk that it might go down the route of the metered paywall, but instead it seems to be following the Guardian with a paid for apps strategy. For the Sun that makes perfecet sense.
I argued previously that the plan for a Sun and News of the World paywall was a recipe for disaster.
What will also be interesting to see if this news has a knock on effect at Trinity Mirror, which was also reported to be looking at the idea of a paywall.
Could this mean a change at The Times also in how it approaches its paywall? Unlike The New York Times, The Times employs a paywall that isn’t in anyway porous and locks out social media, when as the NY Times said prior to putting its paywall live: social media was its strength not its weakness.
“The final decision is understood to have been made by new News International CEO Tom Mockridge, who recently replaced Rebekah Brooks. Although Murdoch issued his pronouncement at the height of the advertising crash in 2009, the wind from Britain’s highest-selling paper has been blowing in the opposite direction. The Sun’s advertising fortunes have recently bounced back, with big brands stumping up growing amounts both in print and online,” Paid Content reports.
The Sun already publishes a paid iPad edition priced at £4.99 a month. The has launched paid for mobile apps before too. Last year The Sun launched an iPhone app for celeb gossip column Bizarre that was priced at £1.19.
Last week the Guardian announced the launch of its iPad app, which it has priced at £9.99 per month although it will be free for three months after launch.
The launch of a Sun paywall along the lines of the one that surrounds The Times would be a disater in terms of traffice and ad reveneu, which remains healthy at the Sun.
The news comes after News International was reported last month to be preparing to axe 110 roles.
News International chief executive Tom Mockridge said at the time that “despite this tough news, I have great confidence in NI and our future. We are continuing to invest in new products and quality content to protect our future and better equip us for the changing markets”.