Murdoch’s been stressing out about Google killing off his papers and “stealing” News Corp’s content, so finally, last week The Times built a paywall around its website. No one has to start paying for the service until the end of the month – they just have to register – but that’s been enough to put people off.
According to research by Hitwise, while other sites have held steady, the Times’ market share has dropped from 4.37 percent during the week which ended on May 22nd to 2.67 percent last week. Its average session time has also fallen from an average of five and a half to three minutes.
However, Robin Goad, a spokesman for Hitwise, was keen to point out that the figure is higher than expected, given that “lots of visitors will be spending very little time there if they are choosing not to register.”
And as TheNextWeb says, the Times shouldn’t be too worried by the drop. Introduction of a paywall was always bound to reduce the site’s audience. The fact that the Times gets a regular income from that smaller audience is much more important to Murdoch’s lot.
But The Times had better watch out. There’s plenty of free news all over the web, and Google – Murdoch’s self-proclaimed bitter enemy – has decided that if subscriptions or micropayments are the way forwardit will match him and The Times blow-for-blow. It’s started testing the water with its Newspass service over in Italy which will let readers use just one log-in to access a slew of subscription websites, and you’ll be able to pay either by subscription or by individual micropayments.
Late last month an article in The Times suggests that the future of journalism hangs on the Apple iPad. But then, it would – Murdoch loves Apple and tablet PCs, and The Times has its own app out which, on the iPad’s launch, it dedicated a double page spread to.