Like the mortgage crisis, it’s obvious no one could have predicted this.

Some early numbers are leaking on Rupert Murdoch’s London Times paywall experiment. After a month of forced free registrations and two weeks of a full paywall, Dan Sabbagh at says these are the numbers:
* 150,000 registrations (PaidContent says this is 12% of the online reader base)
* 15,000 paid subscriptions
* Another 12,500 paid iPad subscriptions

Apparently, the 15,000 paid subscriptions figure is considered “disappointing.”

And it is disappointing — from the perspective of those hoping to save newspapers by erecting paywalls. […] But if we’re charitable and assume that the 15,000 online subs and 12,500 iPad subs grow to include the 150,000 folks who have registered (unlikely), this still would not produce a big revenue base.
Meanwhile, what has the new paywall done to online traffic? So far, it has dropped by two-thirds. That, apparently, is actually better than expected. One editor feared it would collapse by 90%.

  1. Corporate photographer London says:

    it does not look good for paywalls, the Times lost 66% of its internet readership going this route- i dont think people like paying for info online. Its just not in the nature of the internet. Grant

  2. Improbus says:

    It’s about time this a-hole got his comeuppance.

  3. Benjamin says:

    The newspaper is dead. Long live the blog.

  4. Glass Half Full says:

    We need news, the “newspaper” was just a delivery mechanism. We still need reporters to go out and spend time digging into stories, working with sources, etc. The format that story appears (newspaper, magazine, reader, blog) doesn’t matter.

    Most people won’t “double pay” for content. That is I pay $100 a month for cable, I expect to be able to turn on TV and see CNN, NBC, etc without paying AGAIN for the content. People see themselves paying $40 a month for internet and then being asked AGAIN to pay for “special content”. While correct perhaps, it’s a hard perceptual model to break through. I’ve always been able to just walk into the library and read the NY Times without paying for my own subscription. What I get by paying for it is delivery to ME personally (convenience).

    They need to figure out how to get the news to people without “seeming” like you’re being double/triple billed.

  5. Glass Half Empty says:

    1) What is your solution? How do you expect to receive quality content and have it for nothing?

    2) With the cable, you are expected to pay for the premium content. Also, $40 is for the services your ISP provides, nothing more. Also, we all pay for the library services through our taxes.

    Personally, I don’t believe double-billing is an issue. Just like everyone else, I like my Internet free, but I don’t believe it should be that way.

  6. Al Gore Ate My Hamster says:

    People might pay if they actually reported news instead of simply spreading propaganda. When the NY Times devotes and entire issue. To detailing how the current administration is the worst ever and editorially class for most congressional Democrats to be deported or executed for treason, they will have made a small step back toward respect and trust.

  7. deowll says:

    #5 I no longer expect to receive quality content. When everything got merged and the media outlets became little more than extensions of one political faction slightly off set by a few rabid radio media outlets we were pretty much bleeped.

    About all most of these outlets do is repeat what they get from some other organization anyway. They don’t have reporters out looking for information or trying to dig up who did what?

    The American networks have been caught suppressing news that didn’t fit their political agenda. Even if you support the cause who needs that? The lame media doesn’t even get it that if they want viewers they need to do to the Dems exactly what the did to the Repubs. Attack! Hold their feet to fire! Look for the dirt! Print all the news that’s fit to print without any respect for party, etc.! People will show up and watch it!

    The one thing they can’t do is fawn at the government insiders feet and kiss up! People won’t watch it.

    When the national media outlets aren’t independents and are depending on the same third parties for all of their information most of them are redundant.

    What makes the locals more viable is they at least give the local news that I can’t find in duplicate copies all over the place.

    I’m still likely to end up checking blogs and such because the nationals bought up so much and they are still using editorial fiat to filter my news.They don’t get it that if they all say the same thing most of them need to close. They don’t get it that most of them are playing to same 1/3 progressive audience in the states. They are doing a great job controlling the news but it’s kind of obvious why Fox ended up with such a big viewer base and no I’m not much of a fan of Fox.

    I’m just noting that if the media giants in the US were supposed to be going for market share they did something very stupid when they selected reporters and editors that don’t reflect the views, values, and beliefs of 2/3 of their potential audience.

    Look Hannity at least pretends to be about as Conservative as they get for his viewing audience but he makes a point of trying to get people on his shows to represent the other side so they can debate the issues to spark viewer interest. Does it work? Look at the numbers.

    On the lame media if you don’t worship at feet of anyone who spouts the progressive party line you are out. Maybe some of them are getting a tad better here but most of them seem frozen.

  8. bill says:

    I removed their bookmark from my browser..

    Forget the Times along with the London Financial Times!

    Even if it’s worth it, I’m not registering for any more stuff.

  9. hhopper says:

    Most sites on the net are free and make a fortune from advertising. Why can’t newspapers do the same?

  10. chris says:

    I’m confused that anyone thinks US media, excluding FOX, is biased against conservatives. You guys need to get out of the bunker more often. Major US media is extremely timid and isn’t harassing anyone; they are deathly afraid of losing access.

    I think Bob Woodward is a good example of the shift. He started as a tough reporter who stood up to government. Now they wheel him down to the White House so he can repeat whatever crap is currently on sale.

    In this last cycle the John Edwards baby/affair/federal election offense was pushed by The National Enquirer. The total lack of interest by “real” media was not because of bias. It is because news operations have been stripped to the bone and are run by wimps.

    If it doesn’t come from a PR office pre-formatted for distribution it must not be news.

    Oh, and now they want you to pay for it…

  11. sargasso_c says:

    #8. Bill. Me too.

  12. sargasso_c says:

    #12. OvenMaster. Murdoch became Newscorp by ignoring advice. You have to hand him that.

  13. Cap'nKangaroo says:

    I heard a comment on the radio that I believe ties into this. A large majority of people who subscribed to the paper (and are granted free online access) left the site when they landed on the registration page. Even though it would cost them nothing, they didn’t want the hassle of completing the registration.

  14. Mr. Fusion says:

    #10, Chris,

    Good comments and I mostly agree.

    Your comment about John Edwards though bothers me. (Not that you are wrong) Most people don’t care about a has been politician’s personal life. The same with Lindsey Lohan right now. The only reason these stories make the news is because of the salacious nature of people wanting to see those on top fail. Every “star” that fails, makes their own personal little life appear that much better.

    They don’t want news as much as to see a fight at a hockey game or blood at a traffic accident. Most people aren’t interested in Edwards’ “love child”. They are interested in Andrew Breitbart doctoring a video showing the NAACP is racist.

  15. Greg Allen says:

    All the newspapers have to start charging for content or this won’t work.

    Who does’t know this?

    Well, maybe a gigantic ego-driven slimeball who ruined the media for his own personal gain might not.

  16. chris says:


    I find Edwards particularly interesting for a couple of reasons.

    First, he continued to play on the national stage after it must have been clear to him that he was finished.

    Second, there are a lot of financial aspects to this. He was paying the woman, and possibly others, out of campaign donations. I don’t care where people get off, but then donor money is involved.

    Third, he convinced a campaign related person to take public ownership of the baby. That this man did not immediately have divorce proceedings brought against him was my confirmation that Edwards’ story was bogus.

    I think it is valid because he compromised the process, his donors, his staff, and only lastly his marriage.

    That is way different than Clinton getting a random BJ.


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