Over 400,000 ‘Members’ Pay For Times And Sunday Times Subscription

shutterstock_114418690 300315All papers are faced with the same decision when publishing their content online: to charge readers, or not. Papers like The Sun and the Daily Mail distribute news for free, whereas others install paywall systems to restrict content access. These paywall systems can be either soft or hard: a soft paywall grants users access to a limited number of free articles each month, while hard paywalls require users to pay for all of the content.

Of course, there are pros and cons to each side. While paid-for content is more financially feasible, papers which offer free content typically enjoy greater online readership.

The Times is a great example of how paid-for content can yield great results. The paper started charging readers to access its online content  back in 2010 as a result of falling advertising income; and in a recent article I read on Press Gazette, The Times and Sunday Times now boast over 400,000 paid-for subscribers, or ‘members,’ as they call them.

Of the total members, 172,000 are digital subscribers, while the remaining 229,000 have either a print subscription, or a combined subscription. Total subscriber numbers are said to have increased by a notable 22,000 year-on-year and according to ABC, The Times is now the most popular paid-for tablet paper in the United Kingdom, with over 73,000 accessing its content every day.

But success stretches far beyond digital subscriptions: the paper is also witnessing a hike in print circulation figures. In February, circulation totaled 389,051 with 148,000 digital subscribers, taking its total to 537,000. This far surpasses the paid-for sales of the paper’s chief rival, The Daily Telegraph, which had a total of 479,937.

By comparison, The Sunday Times has a print circulation of 787,091, along with 157,000 digital subscribers.

During Advertising Week Europe, News UK Chief Executive Mike Darcey said that the figures are “further vindication that charging for our content is working well and delivering a sustainable future for our papers.”

Do you pay to access online news? Do you think that charging for content is the only way papers guarantee long-term sustainability?


Date Published : 09th of April 2015

Steve Odart

Published by : Steve Odart

About the Author : Steve Odart is the founder of Ixxus, with 28 years experience in the publishing industry. He started life at the London College of Printing, following his grandfather into the printing industry. He spent many years working with Quark through its launch of Quark XPress, and the Quark Publishing System, before setting up a publishing division within one of the UK’s largest Sun Microsystems Resellers. He then joined Oracle, as EMEA Business Development Director – Publishing and Media, prior to founding Ixxus in 2004. Steve has an extensive knowledge of publishing past, present and future, and has worked with the majority of the largest global publishers in his career to date.