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Times of London Puts Up Paywall, Loses 90% of Online Readership

12:59 PM, Jul 20, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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The Guardian reports on the Times of London's experiment with a paywall: "The Times has lost almost 90% of its online readership compared to February since making registration mandatory in June, calculations by the Guardian show." In February the Times had 1.2 million daily unique users, and now has an estimated daily readership of 150,000.

The figures are also unlikely to surprise some executives at the Times: the Sunday Times's editor, John Witherow, predicted in May that "perhaps more than 90%" of pre-registration readers were likely to be lost once the registration-only service was implemented.

It is not clear whether the number of people visiting the site will generate enough revenue to justify the experiment – which Rupert Murdoch says could produce "significant revenues" and, if successful, could see other free-access news websites follow suit.

There are approximately 150,000 Times print subscribers who get a free online registration, but if the estimated 15,000 daily online users who agreed to pay opt for the £2 a week deal, the paywall will generate £120,000 a month – £1.4m a year.

In 2007, the New York Times dropped its "Times Select" paywall after concluding that the ad revenue from a completely free site would "more than exceed the subscription revenue." In January of this year, it was reported that Newsday only got 35 online subscriptions in three months after putting its website behind a paywall.

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