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The Times, the Wall Before the Paywall

Murdoch’s bold move into paid for news online gets its first results. Our recent round table suggested that people would take an instant dislike to paying for their news. It was argued that there would always be someone who could offer the same news for free online however, some experts suggested that if anyone could find a way to make online news pay, it would be Rupert Murdoch.

The Times is taking a tiered approach to the paywall. Currently, it does not cost us to read news from the site, but we must register. Already this is causing a fairly substantial drop in traffic according to the data collected by Hitwise, the Experian owned web monitor.

Early indications suggest that the site, which has always ranked in competition with rivals like the Telegraph and the Guardian, has in a matter of weeks lost visitor share to fall into line with less busy websites such as the Independent, the Mirror and the FT. A steady decline over the last two weeks has seen the sites traffic share reduce by more than 50% in comparison to its position at the start of this month.

Looking at the data, the Telegraph appears to have benefited from the new registration process the most out of the other dailies. Although, downstream data from thetimes.co.uk shows that a quarter of all traffic is going direct to register. The question is – how many of those are completing the process and going on to read the news and how many of these will be willing to continue doing that when they also have to pay for it?

It will be interesting to see whether further developments drop the Times below the FT.com which already has a paywall in place for much of its news. The FT being more niche in its content could have the upper hand.

We’ll keep an eye on this and let you know more results once the paywall has gone in place.

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