News International revealed on Radio 4 this morning that it had just over 50,000 monthly subscribers paying to access its digital versions of The Times and Sunday Times since it introduced its’ paywall earlier in year.
Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, James Harding, Times Editor confirmed it had achieved more than 105,000 paid-for sales to allow customers to access Times digital content – with around half of these being monthly subscribers .
Unfortunately they didn’t split figures down to the different channels, the 105,000 figure is a cumulative total of those paying to access Times and Sunday Times content online, via the iPad and through its Kindle edition.
However Harding said that “technology can be a tricky business” but that the iPad version of the site “was as a revolution and a revelation” and that it had “changed the way we do our journalism.”
Harding, defending the catastrophic fall in sales said, “it’s very early days, but we’re hugely encouraged by what we’ve seen.” adding “what we’ve seen in the first time in 225 years, is that we’re selling copies of the Times on something other than paper.” Encouragingly for the Times those who sign up seem to tend to stick with them, which is a good job because the revenue from this move isn’t going to support them for long.
Evan Davis asked Harding what the reduction in traffic was, and suggested 90%, Harding however refused to say exactly how much the reduction was saying “it’s less than that (90% decline” and then explained that there are “a huge load of people over a couple of millions who still look at the front page of the Times online.” The front page is still free.
Harding referred to the previous – pre-paywall – model as “giving our content away for free” and a “suicidal form of journalism.”
In addition to the 50,000 monthly subscribers, News International said the remaining customers included those who had bought a single digital pass and those that had taken out an initial 30-day trial for £1 and not renewed.
News International said that on top of its digital only subscribers around 100,000 print subscribers had activated their accounts since launch taking the total paid audience for digital products close to 200,000 – allowing for some duplication.
The Times iPad app costs £9.99 a month, where as Times readers are charged £1 for a day’s digital access – the same price as the weekday newspaper – or £2 for a week’s subscription to the Times and Sunday Times sites.
The interview is available here for the next 7 days it starts at 1:22:54[ad name=”Google Text half banner advert “]