The Times of London is experimenting with its paywall funnel
The Times has a reputation for having the hardest paywall in the U.K., but it’s not opposed to some open-access experimentation — as long as it results in new subscribers. Last week the national newspaper introduced registered access, allowing non-subscribers access to just two stories a week in exchange for registering.
This doesn’t mark any kind of long-term relaxation of its paywall, which is turning a tidy profit: the number of subscribers has risen from 402,000 to 413,600 in the last year, with digital subscriptions growing from 170,000 to 182,500. In March, it changed its editorial mandate and dropped breaking news. Since then there’s been a 20 percent increase in weekday traffic from existing subscribers.
The two articles a week, in exchange for details like email address and country of residence, are intended as a sampling exercise to attract new subscribers.
This is the closest the paper will come to making any content free. “We don’t use the F word here,” The Times digital director Alan Hunter told Digiday. “It’s a way of experimenting with the subscription funnel. We’ll continue to do experiments like this for a long time.”
Anyone inside or out of the U.K. can access their two articles if they register on the website (or mobile site). There are no plans to do the same on domestic apps yet, nor the international Times of London app.
It’s not the first time The Times has experimented with making content open to people if they register some details. For the last few months it’s allowed subscribers to share articles from their iPad apps, via email and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Whoever they share it with can read the article in full once they register. So far there’s been a “significant uptick” in non-subscribers coming to the site via articles that have been shared with them from iPad subscribers, according to Hunter....MORE