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Comment : Is The Times' Paywall Working?

Sometimes, quality is better than sheer quantity as Rupert Murdoch's paywall experiment with the Times newspaper proves it to some extent.

Hitwise published a report which showed that the new Times Online news website had received 66 per cent less visits compared to traffic figures prior to the 2nd of July.

We do not have the breakdown of the absolute numbers and it's very unlikely that this will ever be published. However, third party websites like Alexa or Google Trends for websites do show that the drop had stabilised and is not as important as it was first thought.

More importantly, these two sources, however disputable is their validity, support Hitwise's report that thetimes.co.uk is now about a third the size of the old one.

There's one more vital nugget. Dan Sabbagh, a former Times journalist, says (opens in new tab) that 150,000 registered for the Times and Sunday Times website during the free trial period with a tenth of that number actually buying content and 12,500 using the separate iPad application.

One can be sure that the six-figure number quoted as registrants is way smaller than the number of actual visitors to the website.

As a comparison, in December 2009, Times Online had 20 million unique visitors according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic.

Dan Sabbagh has also written a fairly detailed analysis (opens in new tab) of Rupert Murdoch's move.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.