Newspapers hoping to make more cash out of their online operations by making users pay to get past their paywalls appear to be suffering. More than 100,000 people have paid to go behind the UK Times and Sunday Times' new online paywalls but visits to their websites have fallen by about 87 per cent.
Before it bought in a paywall Times Online was registering about 21 million unique users a month to its front page earlier this year. That figure fell to 2.7 million last month.
The papers said in addition 100,000 people had a joint subscription to read the newspapers in print and digitally. However the newspapers are pleased because they say they are not having to give away their content for free.
Times editor James Harding seems to think that the figures are a good thing, and that the papers were "hugely encouraged". Times executives said they had expected to lose 90 per cent of the papers' online readers when they started charging £2 a week, or £9.99 for a four-week subscription.