Paid-for content requires a focused approach from newspapers

Conventional wisdom has it that the internet is killing newspapers. Paid-for circulations are relentlessly down across most of the market while, according to last week’s ABCes, free internet access is just as relentlessly up. If these two are related – as most people in the media industry believe they are – the road to business nowhere beckons as analogue (or in this case hard-copy paper) pounds are unavoidably swapped for digital pence.But what of affairs over at the good ship Beacon of Hope (otherwise known as paywall city or News International)? Well, no one knows for certain since the company hasn’t released much by way of useful data, but a report from the internet traffic analysts Nielsen last week did not make especially happy reading. In the three months the Times/Sunday Times paywall’s been up, total monthly unique visitors have, according to Nielsen, dropped by more than 40% from over 3 million to nearer 1.7 million. And the estimate of those going beyond the front page (free) to the paid-for delights within is just 362,000 per month. As this flatters the paywall by including anyone given access free, discounted, or as part of a print subscription, if it’s anywhere near accurate, Wapping will be a worried place.

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