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.
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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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.