The Times Paywall Is Up, No More Free Content

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 2, 2010
Updated • Aug 2, 2010

If you head over to The Times website right now you will see a site that looks like many of the other newspaper websites on the Internet. But clicking on any link on the page yields a surprising result, at least for visitors who have not read about the paywall plans before.

A screen overlay appears asking the visitor to log in or subscribe to read the contents. A subscription for a day costs 1 British Pound, a week's access 2 pounds. Both subscriptions provide access rights to The Times and The Sunday Times websites.

This strategy change is surely going to affect the number of visitors to the site, as many will be uneager to pay for news since they have plenty of additional free options to visit.

thetimes paywall
thetimes paywall

The question is if the remaining visitors are sufficient to break even or make a profit. It is unlikely that they will considering the number of subscribers they need and failures of other services that decided to implement a subscription based model.

Success or failure will depend largely on the contents offered online. Unique contents are the only option to attract users as everything else is readily available on dozens of other news sites throughout the country.

It will be interesting to see how Google and other search engines react on the decision. The Times alone has more than 1 million indexed pages in Google, of which most are now instantly displayed the subscription page and not the contents.

This should mean that all those pages are dropped from the search engines, and that social traffic will be reduced to a minimum as well, since only subscribers can read the contents.

It is likely that The Times would have been able to earn more money with proper advertising than they are able to earn from the paywall. Only time will tell in this case. It is without doubt the case that many newspapers around the world watch closely, likely that many will follow the lead if it proves to be successful. But then again, it is unlikely that it will be a success. Think about it, who will find The Times website once all the references in the SERPS and on other sites are gone? Only those that read it regularly and those who have heard about it.

What's your take on this? Let us know in the comments.


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  1. prupert said on July 4, 2010 at 12:14 am

    I stand corrected, the BBC is funded by the licence fee – so it is not free.

    Murdoch is still a control-whore and is not good. He doesn’t care about good journalism, all he cares about is profit and loss.

  2. Jack Pot said on July 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    I wasn’t aware that the BBC offers FREE news. In fact, I was under the impression that the Corporation was being financed by compulsory license fees. Good for Murdoch and good luck for The Times and its associated newspapers. Great content costs money so why shouldn’t quality journalism be rewarded financially?

  3. Dan Serban said on July 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    It’s called the iPad effect.
    You will see more and more news outlets adopt this new model (that the iPad has now made possible).
    Step 1. Deliver a free iPad app.
    Step 2. Set up a paywall.
    Studies have shown that iPad owners are several times as likely to pay for premium content than the average web surfer.

  4. Transcontinental said on July 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    French “Le Monde” ( ) has had up to now an in-between approach, that is most articles free of subscription, and in-depth sights (and a few more services) reserved to a 7€ monthly fee, but I think they on a similar perspective to The Times … time will tell but I think that as often the conclusion will be a true hybrid system, that is a correct balance between free and payed news (like at this time, hope they don’t change)

    1. Martin said on July 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm

      Pay systems can only work if the service is the service is offering unique contents or products and if it’s easy to subscribe to it. A hybrid website makes the most sense, especially since you attract visitors from the Internet as well as the people that know about the newspaper. I honestly think that what The Times does is bad, very very bad, marketing. They lose lots of trust and authority doing this which might hurt them if they ever decided to go back to a more open system.

  5. miggdrasil said on July 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I haven’t read my news there never.. but in my opinion they made a wrong move.

  6. Bob Smith said on July 3, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Thanks for following me on twitter, if this is the link….

    I don’t see anything, it must of been some sort of hack or whatever but it’s now gone.

    Not Registered
    Opera Browser

  7. Nebulus said on July 3, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Two words come to mind: EPIC FAIL.

  8. Jojo said on July 3, 2010 at 12:27 am

    I’m not seeing that here in the USA. Just checked. But I am registered on the site, which might make a difference.

    The paywall isn’t scheduled (at least in the USA) until January and I haven’t heard of them implementing it earlier.

    Maybe it was coming in earlier in Europe? Maybe this is just a test in certain geographical areas?

    In any case, once the paywall goes up, I will switch to someone else like the Washington Post or the LA Times or maybe the BBC.

    The NY Times is making a big mistake putting up their paywall and trying to imitate the Wall Street Journal, which has a completely different audience.

    1. Martin said on July 3, 2010 at 12:35 am

      Sorry, should have made myself clearer, it is The Times in the UK, not the New York Times. Link has been added to reduce confusion.

  9. prupert said on July 3, 2010 at 12:22 am

    It’s all down to the the evilness that is Rupert Murdoch. He wants to make money out of everything, he hates the way Google and the BBC offers free news. They can’t do anything about Google, however, after supporting the Conservatives during the election campaign and subsequently (via all his news rags such as The Sun and The Times)- we will see David Cameron and his government slowly dismantle the BBC – claiming they are cutting costs and giving more choice to the consumer – when all they will be doing is ensuring Murdoch’s media empire continues unthreatened.

    1. lux said on July 3, 2010 at 6:08 am

      Murdoch changes allegiances with each swing in voting intentions : right, left, and right again… Not so much evil as an opportunistic imperialist.
      As far as the beeb is concerned, it is high time things were shaken up. It was far too indulgent with Labour’s loony policy, and became excessively politically correct to the point of being caricatural. So good on Cameron and Clegg if they push the BBC into doing what they used to do so well – producing high quality drama and documentary which was internationally recognised.

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