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The Times of London to charge for online content

So Rupert Murdoch gets started, good to his word

9:06 am on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The Times and Sunday Times newspapers will start charging to access their websites in June, owner News International (NI) has announced.

Both titles will launch new websites in early May, separating their digital presence for the first time and replacing... Times Online. The two new sites will be available for a free trial period to registered customers. And payment will give customers access to both sites.

Users will pay 1 for a day's access and 2 for a week's subscription.

According to my online conversion service that's US$1.48 per day. Over a year that's 104 / USD$154.80.

"This is just the start. The Times and The Sunday Times are the first of our four titles in the UK to move to this new approach. We will continue to develop our digital products and to invest and innovate for our customers."

So, the game is afoot!

Not sure that I see the value in charging a daily fee to access a Sunday newspaper, so I can understand the logic of combining access to both with the single fee. No indication as to how they intend to charge for this. Will online readers have to go through an order process daily, or weekly? That would be rather cumbersome. Or, for weekly subscribers, will there be an automatic standing charge?

Obviously the idea here is to encourage readers to subscribe weekly, it offers much greater value. If payment is made by a standing charge, then subscribers will soon forget that they are paying and carry on regardless. But, will there be a sufficient number of subscribers?

They talk about rolling this model out to two other newspapers. I wonder with great curiosity if that will include their red top The Sun! Can't see all those builders, painters and lads with white vans, who traditionally ogle the bare-chested ladies of Page 3 over a fried breakfast and during tea breaks, queueing up to pay to do the same online!
11:09 am on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I not against charging, but at those prices it's going to be a tough sell when the majority of news is still free. They should take a page out of ESPN's book with their Insider content.

"2 Year Membership - $2.50 a month (Best Value)
Includes a 2 YEAR subscription to ESPN The Magazine."

I currently don't pay for any news online as the majority of it is still free, but that offer is enticing. I think Murdock would have better luck packaging newspapers/magazines with online subscriptions.
3:17 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Big mistake.

There is so much choice for news on the internet that charging for news is suicidal. Lets face facts, nearly every story in a single newspaper is reported elsewhere. Except for a very few special features and some commentary. So there is nothing really special about these papers that other papers are not giving away for free.

I am guessing this will last about a year.
7:17 am on Apr 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is actually a good idea.

I think what the Times should instead is put certain sections behind a paywall.

I could see this working for their Business section as it is very good.
11:17 am on Apr 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It can work, but not for the Times, or most newspapers. There is too little genuinely unique content for it to be worth paying.