Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on the strategic issue of newspaper paywalls. The Guardian’s lead media blogger Cory Doctorow led the critical analysis in asking three main questions about the dataset as presented by Murdoch’s company. (Doctorow, 2010)
These questions are important in determining what the paywall and subscriber numbers mean to News Corp’s bottom line profit figures. This experiment with the online subscriber model for news is important to the sector due to the declining revenues and bankruptcy of many traditional newspapers. If News Corp is successful in attracting consumers to its online subscription models, iPad only newspaper, and financial industry news, then it represents a business possibility or even necessity for other newspapers in the sector like the Guardian to follow.
“News International today announces that the new digital products for The Times and The Sunday Times have achieved more than 105,000 paid-for customer sales to date. Around half of these are monthly subscribers. These include subscribers to the digital sites as well as subscribers to The Times iPad app and Kindle edition. Many of the rest are either single copy or pay-as-you-go customers. In addition to the digital-only subscribers, there are 100,000 joint digital/print subscribers who have activated their digital accounts to the websites and/or iPad app since launch. As a result, the total paid audience for digital products on The Times and The Sunday Times is close to 200,000 (allowing for some duplication in the digital customer sales number).” (Paid Content, 2010)
Felix Salmon adds another aspect of the paywall that may not be immediately evident from this news release, reporting that “traffic has fallen off a cliff, from 21 million to 2.7 million page views per month” for these same sites. (Reuters, 2010) From these statistics, the 200,000 paid subscribers are only viewing on average 10 pages or news articles.