Times website traffic dwindles behind paywall

Darren Allan

October 26, 2010

The Times and Sunday Times websites have seen a large decline in visitors since News International built the paywall around its online content.

The paywall went up at the start of July, and industry experts predicted a fall in readership of around the 90% level. Simply put, the thinking was that folks wouldn’t pay to read content when they could access other papers and news sources for free.

After three weeks of the paywall being erected, the Guardian estimated traffic loss at around 65%, although at the time, it was thought that could have been mitigated by introductory first month offers.

Now the Guardian reports Nielsen has new data on visitors who are travelling beyond the paywall – because News International still isn’t giving out any numbers, a fairly telling sign that they aren’t good.

Nielsen estimates that between July and September, an average of 362,000 visitors per month have been reading the subscription content. Before the paywall went up, monthly visitors were approximately 3.1 million, so its construction has caused a drop of 88%. Pretty much what those industry experts originally guessed.

Mind you, apparently some 1.8 million folks still hit the front pages every month, it’s just that only 362,000 of them move beyond the paywall.

Nielsen traffic figures indicate that visitor numbers to the Telegraph site have also dropped by 10% over the past three months, and Guardian numbers have gone down by 4% too.


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