Friday, March 26, 2010

Will You Pay To Read The Times Online?

News International has announced that in order to access the Times and Sunday Times sites readers will in future have to pay £1 a day or £2 a week. I wonder how many people will be taking them up on their kind offer. I suppose I will have to for professional reasons, but if I didn't do what I do, I most certainly would not be willing to pay £104 a year.

I predict that their web traffic will plunge by 95%.

Would you pay? Click HERE to vote.


JohnRS said...

With so many other sources of news (of varying quality admittedly) why would I spend my money on this one?

Something like Google News gives me an easy window on the world, allows me to compare stories from multiple sources and doesnt cost me anything. What's not to like?

The Purpleline said...

The simple answer is no, due to the political stance of the paper Pro Nu Labour and I suspect working on behalf of Brown to attack Hoon, Hewitt and Byers.

I also dislike the format of the Times, I prefer and always have done the Telegraph internet pages.

If these people want to provide a comprehensive subscription service they need to make the offer attractive. I heard the Editor on TV this morning and all he was doing was promoting the standard of journalism and depth of the papers comments and stories.

This is not enough.

If they introduced a general fee but gave something back, like a memembership club, with discounts on Wine, theatre tickets,Cinema tickets, Music, Internet coverage of Football matches, interactive forums with journalists, food discounts and other such strategies, I would re-consider and willingly pay a premium to join.

Guppy said...

I won't be paying while I can get news and views free on the BBC website.

The BBC with its guaranteed licence fee income has an effective global news monopoly on the internet and is now killing newspapers on a regular basis.

Its internet role will have to be severely pruned - and rapidly. We were never asked that our licence fee be given over to internet news.

You don't have to be Rupert Murdoch to see the economic distortion and now destruction it has unwittingly created.

JS said...

Im certain there's a necessity for micro-payments in the future, but media organisations have to adjust their per unit price expectations.

Dr Blue said...

You don't get owt for nowt.

We've had a great time with free information on big newspaper sites for last several years...but we've enjoyed a free lunch...which someone else has paid for.

At some stage they have to earn some money.

Purpleline's suggestions are sensible.

Unknown said...

I already pay £1 a day (and £1.50 on Saturdays). I’m not paying twice.

Null said...


Even when it was free, it loaded slowly and looked like Murdoch had written most stories himself.

When the Sunday Times was edited by Andrew Neil, it was a must buy. That is no longer the case.

I am happy to assist Murdoch in his decline into madness.

Rush-is-Right said...

The only part of the Times I would ever read are Matthew Parris' and Jeremy Clarkson's columns.

But I wouldn't pay cash for either.

Stepney said...

The rules around pay-for-content are simple.

If it's rare or commercially important then payment is going to work. If it's freely available (like news), or commercially unimportant (like news), then it won't stand a chance.

This is a wild attempt to support a failing media type and I'm afraid it don't look good. If newspapers had all gone for paid online content at the start then they'd be sitting pretty. As it is, they let everything go for free and now we expect it to be free.

Antisthenes said...

It is possible to buy The Times and Sunday times newspaper digitally on line a much cheaper option.

Grand_Inquisitor said...

It's Market Forces, Rupert - I can get my news for free elsewhere, so I shall continue to do so.

Incidently the music industry tries to charge for its on-line music the same cost as you would pay for an actual CD worth.

However, for a CD when you consider the physical production costs, the middle men distributers and the retailers cuts in the final cost of that CD then you realise how much you are being ripped of with the on-line version.

The Digital Economy Bill, which I hope will fall, is an attempt to prop up an out-of-date business model for music. It seems that Murdoch is trying to keep an equally out-of-date model going in the print business.

Weygand said...

Real time news is available all over the place, not least at the BBC website.

The only 'added value' the press has to offer is comment - but even this plus only extends to the specific commentators it employs, since this web is full of informed comment; this site for example.

And if Murdock thinks people are going to pay to have access to the profundities of David Aaronovitch, Giles Coren, India Knight, Caitlin Moran, Frank Skinner, Hugo Rifkind etc etc, then he is in for a nasty surprise.

Anonymous said...

NO, No and No! It has already become a sensationalist tabloid, often supporting Labour pronouncements. Murdoch still seem to like Brown.

Liz said...

that's is a helluva price - am sure I will not pay on a daily basis

Anonymous said...

After yet another redundant and disruptive redesign a couple of weeks ago, the case for reading the Times each day gets thinner and thinner. The Sunday has been unreadable for years, and the daily is rapidly deteriorating into similarly plastic, aspirational comic-dom.

The FT doesn't q-u-i-t-e stand up without support as a daily, and thus I need a regular paper for the rest of the family. Maybe Gospodin Lebedev will turn the Independent back into something as startingly fresh and good as it was for the first 10 years of its existence.

So, bluntly, Mr Murdoch, I will definitely not be availing myself of your kind offer to pay twice for one product; no matter how many bells and flashing lights you hang on your online version. I may even stop bothering with the folding variant. As others have observed, there are too many other sources of information out there.

Thanks, but no thanks, Digger!

Jabba the Cat said...


MikeyP said...

Will I pay to read the Times online?

No, next question!

simon said...

If your 95% prediction is right - and it seems the right ball park to me -it will still leave them with a million users and a revenue of £100m a year which I have no doubt is far more than their web operations are making them currently

Sir Compton Valence said...

History will take dim view of the newspaper people who thought 15 years ago that it would be a good thing to give their intellectual property away free gratis and for nothing to anyone who happened by. That is what we are talking about here, and the "it's all free on the web" argument used by people who compare news websites with blogs is specious - they are different, even in the case of excellent blogs such as Iain's which break news.

Mr Murdoch's reason for doing it is to stop regular readers giving up on print and getting the same journalism for nowt. It is not a question of paying twice. Subcribers who already get The Times and Sunday Times will have access to the sites and I would have thought that £2 a week is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to read solely online. NI will also want hard numbers for online readership - duration of visit, time spent on particular stories, etc, etc, etc to show to advertisers and ads will eventually be tailored to individual readers. Spooky? Well, Google does that already.

The other newspapers are watching with their fingers crossed and if it works (and it will) they will all roll out the pay models they've been working on - even the beloved Graun.

I believe it is called leaving it to the market.

happiness said...

No way. The paper, which I read, is going rapidly downhill and I dislike the tabloid format. There are other sites out there, and other papers. Weygand has identified one of the biggest problems - crap columnists. So bye, bye Dirty Digger. Go home to Australia, whoops, forgot he changed his nationality due to a matter of principle. LOL!

Anonymous said...

As a subscriber to the printed version of The Times I have been paying for your "free" website
for years.
(Btw Mark - get yourself a subscription my friend it costs less on a daily basis and you won't have to pay for access to the new websites)
Some of you don't like TheTimes , fair enough there are other newspapers that may be more to your taste but don't kid yourself that they will stay free for much longer.
The bottom line is that it costs money to run a serious professional news gathering organisation.
Dr Blue is correct - There is no such thing as a free lunch.
When somebody is offering you a freebie they are usually trying to buy influence either overtly through advertising or covertly via the tone of the coverage.

There is a wider debate to be had here....
If the so called "digital economy" is ever going to get off the ground people will have to be
prepared to pay for content.
It amuses me how some young folks spend hundreds of pounds on the latest media player type gadgets and then spend all day looking for free music and video on illegal file sharing sites.

Blackacre said...

I read somewhere that the Times thinks that 5% of the current readership paying would be a success, so they would be OK with a 95% decline on that basis.

My view is that we should not expect to get this stuff for free and we had better get used to the idea - if we do not pay proper newspapers will die, certainly outside the cities, and that would be a disaster whatever you think of particular papers.

Penfold said...

Greedy Yankee bastard.

Why do we not have a rule, as in the US, that only UK nationals can own media companys; press, magazines, TV -Terrestial or Satellite.?

Anonymous said...

I live the naive comments - "News is freely available at the BBC web-site"

Labour propaganda is freely available at the BBC web-site.

William said...

I have deleted The Times from my "Favourites".
No big loss, certainly wouldn't pay.

Piers Fallowcherry said...

Murdoch famously used live football as a 'battering ram' to drive Sky subscriptions when he moved his satellite service from the free-to-air domain.

That was a courageous move at the time; 'betting the ranch' and dat sorta ting. Despise him - I do - but he has few equals in this regard.

Given Rupe's track record on the big decisions (and in the assumption that an online news sub is one) I would imagine that he has something up his sleeve on this. He has never been afraid to cross promote/fertilise his media interests (and The Purpleline has a suggestion or two on this above).

Unknown said...

My father always brought home the Times from his journey to work, and I read it every evening as a child. Despite all the Murdoch mud-slinging, it has always been my paper of choice. I regularly read articles online - Matthew Parris and Rachel Sylvester provide excellent commentary, and Michael Atherton is unmissable for the cricket.

This style of payment system is ridiculous - flat rate fees for access DO NOT WORK.

A good system which I might have accepted would be micro-payments: fees of 1p-2p for each article, maybe 5p for premium columnists such as Parris, Sylvester and Atherton. Bill people for their total usage at the end of each month and watch the money roll in.

What you have to do is to disconnect reading the article from paying for the article. If you have to pay £1 each day you want to read an article, no-one will ever go to the Times website. In contrast, if you have a Times account, it is nothing to read a single article for 2 pence (which you will be invoiced for at a later date).

Nigel said...

It's not a bad site, and the Times for all its shortcomings is probably the best of a less than brilliant set of national newspapers. But for a price which approaches that of the BBC license fee, it's foolishly expensive for what it provides.

I shall miss Ben Macintyre and Matthew Parris - but there's little to stop them setting up as independent blogs once the site folds.

Unknown said...

The dead tree press are dead. Blogging, Twitter and other social media are now the way forward.

The BBC should be axed next, no one in their right mind would pay £1 a day to view some rubbish paper full of one sided Liebour crap.

Hopefully the Guardian will be next to go as well.

I find now that anything the BBC tells me especially about Liebour or so called climate change is full of lies normally straight from the pages of the Guardian. However, a quick trip to more authorative websites soon corrects the bolloks spouted by the likes of Harrabin or Toenails.

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Iain, I believe The Times they are a-changin' and I think this is quite a deliberate move by Murdoch to protect his global interests.

Anonymous said...

"Labour propaganda is freely available at the BBC web-site."

The same is true of The Times IMO

Brian said...

When "journalism" stops its infatuation with slebs and investigates news instead of regurgitating press notices then it will have a monetary value.

Kateyo said...

They did this with the Irish News and sometimes I pay. Usually I go there tolook first and if its interesting, I pay for the day rather than buy a paper. So if they give you a preview in order to chose whether or not to buy then maybe. I think the quality of the IN has improved since there was a pay wall. This is the way of the future for most papers now, its survival for them imv.

Professor Pizzle said...

I would pay, but not this amount. It's insanely wrong. A massive miscalculation. OUt by a factor of 10.

So, £150 a year. THe same for the Guardian, the Mail and the Telegraph, which I read snippets from online every day. THat would be £600 a year on newspapers. THree times the BBC licence, and three times the typical braodband costs.
Are they mad?

Subscription will work – and be embraced – when it's micro-payment. I only read BITS. I don't want the whole website. Why not charge pennies, or even fractions of pennies per page?

The Grim Reaper said...

This really isn't the solution to the problems at The Times newspapers. If they just focused on being a newspaper again, and not stuffing their papers with crap that nobody reads, that's half the problem sorted immediately.

Mark said "I already pay £1 a day (and £1.50 on Saturdays). I’m not paying twice."

Then buy yourself a subscription to the newspaper. It's cheaper than £104 a year, and it will also mean you get free access to their website when they start charging.

Jess The Dog said...

We are used to getting things free online, so I think this will be a disaster for News International. After all, they don't have a monopoly on news and most papers cover 90% of the same's only the occasional 'exclusive' and commentary that is particular to each newspaper.

They need to make it cheaper (printing and distribution costs do not exist) or add far greater value, perhaps partnering with other online services, to make this viable. If it is the same price as the print version, no-one will bother. Which may screw their online advertising revenue stream.

Anonymous said...

The way the KGB is taking over newspapers in this country, we may all have to log into a Moscow site!

Jess The Dog said...

I've often thought how I would like to buy a single Sunday newspaper which had all the news bits in from all the newspapers, but none of the crap.

I would choose the Sunday Times, Telegraph, Observer, Independent news items and commentary, plus the book and film reviews.

All the fashion, sports and lifestyle crap goes straight in the recycling bin.

Robin Horsley said...


I am not interested in the Times offer but if you would offer me a premium email based version of your blog with around 2-3 times the volume of political content that you current blog for free, I would be happy to pay £5 per year and I suspect 20,000 others would also - providing you with £100k per year from this source alone.


Curmy said...

No !

Blobfish said...

Shall I add this to the £8 delivery levy they imposed on their loyal subscribers last month, thereby breaking their contract.

Charging for online content will only work if they have already colluded with the other broadsheets to do the same... I expect that they have, watch this space.

John Linford said...

I tend to surf a number of newspaper sites and various Blogs in my quest for an informed opinion on what's happening in the world.

I may only read one or two articles a day on the Times' web site, or I may read ten. Every now and again I dig deeper into the more esoteric stuff therein. Most of it I never look at at all - sport for example.

On that basis a flat fee for all content will not work. On the other hand, I have no great objection to paying a few pence for a good, well written and informative article.

I think the workable model is to pay by the drink rather than being forced to buy a share in the pub on the basis you might want a pint there occasionally.

Botogol said...

I pay £1 a day to read the newspaper on paper, and don't think twice about it. No doubt I will get used to paying on-line.

Need micro-payments to make the internet really come alive, though. Pay 5p with a single click to read something? Yes of course. Sign up with all my credit card details etc to pay £1 for the day.... too late, gone already.

Unknown said...

if this meant a reduction advertising in the papers/sites then fine, but i think digger wants both.

The rise of free news websites with advertising links thrown in is upon us. No one has to pay for this now.

Journalists aren't journalists in the real sense anymore.

BushBaby said...

Actually Prof Pizzel is right I read selected items from my favourite journos Simon Carr the Indie, Anne Treneman The Times, Quentin Letts the Mail, Ambrose Wilson the Telegraph eg.
If they charged by the journalist hits then you would easily see the money makers for the papers.
It would mean the Alibhia-Brown,Toynbee and Ashton would get the sack at the Guardian but there you go Darwinian dynamics in full flow.

Twig said...

A better idea would be to have newspapers sign up to a licence fee scheme paid for by any person reading or wrapping vegetable peelings in any newspaper in the scheme.

Anyone caught using a members newspaper without a licence should then face a £1000 fine or imprisonment.

In return for a cut of the licence fee, member newspapers should allow anyone around the world to have free access to their on-line editions which should be informative, entertaining, educational and politically impartial.

Since it was my idea, I should get the contract to collect the fees and keep a reasonable percentage for myself.


Ben said...

I gave up the Times years ago when it started to go so disastrously downmarket; it upset me to see this being done to such a once fine newspaper. The same thing has now happened to my current newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, but somehow it upsets me less.

The only thing worth reading in the Times now is Matthew Parris. And he could move.

I wouldn't pay £1 for something I couldn't even light a fire with after I'd finished reading it.

Timothy Belmont said...

In a word, no.

And I've informed them, too.

Jobbing Doctor said...

No, absolutely not.

Nigel said...

Bizarre that it's cheaper to subscribe to the dead tree version (with all its associated costs of production) in order to get access to the website, than to pay for the web version alone.

JohnRS said...

I'm highly unlikely to pay for online content from one source (ie The Times) when I can get essentially the same info from many other sources, none of whom are asking me to pay and with similar quality. So unless the whole of the media industry heads in the same direction at roughly the same time this will fail.

However in the (very) long term I suspect we'll need to move to an environment where all content is paid for, hardcopies basically wont exist any more. A range of micropayment and other deals (ie PPV, subscription etc) will need to be available. Content will be available where-ever you are, national boundaries will largely be irrelevant, mobility will be assumed.

Given the way habits are already changing I wouldnt have thought there would be too much disagreement with this long term view...the hard part will be making the change. First one in will probably fail for the reasons mentioned in my first papargraph.

Richard Holloway said...

I was looking forward to seeing how they would operate the payment model. Now it's here I'm very disappointed.

It's still a print model for a digital product. If I want to read one article why can't I just pay for one article at say: 10p? If I want to read another article I could pay 10p for that. If it went over a pound in one day I would get access to the whole newspaper. It would be a bit like the iPhone app store. I wouldn't previously have paid for apps but the iPhone makes it so easy. Why can't the Times do the same?

Anonymous said...

I am fed up UK newspapers like the Times supporting a bully like Brown. I read free on-line versions of Der Spiegel, Sydney Morning Herlad, Washington Post, NY times and Huffington post ( a blog really by that Greek Woman Arianna Huffington formerly Arianna Stassinopouls who was living in London in 1970s and was a partner to Bernard Levin, a pompous journalist who wrote in the Times). I do not want to pay Murdoch's publications.

Anonymous said...

I am fed up UK newspapers like the Times supporting a bully like Brown. I read free on-line versions of Der Spiegel, Sydney Morning Herlad, Washington Post, NY times and Huffington post ( a blog really by that Greek Woman Arianna Huffington formerly Arianna Stassinopouls who was living in London in 1970s and was a partner to Bernard Levin, a pompous journalist who wrote in the Times). I do not want to pay Murdoch's publications.

Anonymous said...

I would pay. But that's not the point. Most people wouldn't. And if I link to a Times story from my blog, my readers won't be able to read it.

What's more - they don't make money from the cover price of the paper version. That goes on printing and distribution. The money comes from ads - which they have online as well.

John Pickworth said...

Not a chance.

I like the Times Online and have done more than my fair share in promoting it to others. But at the end of the day its largely just news. The papers don't make it, they simply report it... as do all their competitors, many of them for free.

Huge mistake that will ultimately fail as it did for the American newspapers that tried this 10 years ago.