News Corp.’s paywall drives away nearly 90% of readers

The numbers are in for the first four months of Rupert Murdoch’s News
Corp.’s foray into paywalls — only 1.5 per cent of its pre-paywall
readers have ponied up cash for news, with only half of those users
signing up for monthly subscriptions. Nearly 90 per cent of readers have not returned.

The bottom line: News Corp., which publishes the Times and the Sunday Times in Britain, has attracted over 50,000 paying monthly subscribers. The two papers charge US$1.60 for a day’s access or US$6.40 for the week. Another 100,000 who already subscribe to the print edition have signed up, although they’re not paying extra for access.

The paywalls and their impact on readership — the sites boasted over three million monthly readers before the paywall — are being closely watched globally by media organizations, which are struggling to monetize their content on the web.

The New York Times reports that, while some doubt that the public will pay for news, “some specialty publications in areas like business and finance have had modest success with pay walls.

The Financial Times, for example, says it has attracted 189,000 paying customers for its website, which uses a “metered” model, giving online readers a limited number of free articles every month before charges kick in.”

The New York Times plans to introduce a similar paywall next year. For now, much of NYT‘s content is free for a short while before going behind the paywall. It remains to be seen if Canadian publications will follow in their footsteps.