Unabashed Heterophobe (paulnolan) wrote in ontd_political,
Unabashed Heterophobe

Times paywall: initial data and analysis

Following months of speculation, News International has finally erected a paywall around the Times newspaper website. After a couple of weeks running two sites, (www.timesonline.co.uk and www.thetimes.co.uk) in parallel, visitors to the former site are now automatically redirected to the latter. Since last Tuesday, users have had to register to read content on the Times website (as well the separate Sunday Times site). However, they don’t yet have to pay: during the trial period, which is expected to last until the end of the month, simply having registered is enough to access the content behind the paywall.

So, what has the impact been on traffic to the Times website? The chart below illustrates the market share of UK Internet visits within our News and Media – Print category. We have aggregated traffic to both old and new Times sites in order to cut out any double counting and provide a consistent comparison and, as you can see, the title’s market share has dropped from 4.37% during the week ending May 22nd to 2.67% last week (w/e June 19th).

The Times was only forcing people to register for part of last week, so the daily traffic chart below shows an even steeper drop off: yesterday the title’s market share was down to 1.81%, under half of its average during May. Its average session time has also fallen from an average of five and half to three minutes. That figure is actually higher than many people would have expected, given that a lots of visitors will be spending very little time there if they are choosing not to register.

The Times has actually setup a separate site for user registrations, MyTimes+. Last week this was the top site visited after the Times, picking up 17.6% of downstream traffic; implying that a significant amount of users are choosing to register in order to access content. The next most visited website after the main Times site was the Telegraph, which picked up 3.8% of downstream traffic last week. The chart below illustrates the amount of downstream traffic that the Times sends to its main competitors (plus the Sun and Sky News), and how this has changed over the last couple of months.

The amount of traffic that the Times has sent to these sites has dipped over the last couple of weeks. At first glance this seems counter intuitive: surely people ‘bouncing’ from the Times site after being put off by the paywall must be going to competitors? In fact, the reason for the dip is the amount of traffic that the Times is now sending to the MyTimes+ registration page. Therefore, a more accurate picture of which sites are picking up Times readers not prepared to register the can be found by looking at the downstream data from MyTimes+.

As you can see from the table above, around a third of MyTimes+ visitors go on to another Times property. The biggest beneficiaries of traffic from a competitor perspective are the Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail and BBC News. Looking at it from the opposite direction the chart below, we can see that the Independent is most reliant on traffic from MyTimes+, which accounted for 0.6% of its visits last week. The Telecgraph was close behind and the Guardian in third place, implying that the Times’ traditional broadsheet competitors are best placed to pick up readers not willing to register or pay to see its content.

So, its still early days, but the conclusion so far seems to be this: since it forced users to register in order to view its content, the Times has lost market share. However, this decline has clearly not been catastrophic and none of the paper’s rivals has particularly benefitted. Yet. The real test will come when people actually have to pay rather than simply register to view the Times’ content. When that happens we will of course provide some more analysis, so keep an eye on the blog and our Twitter feed for updates.

Source: Hitwise
Tags: charts n shit, internet/net neutrality/piracy, media, rupert murdoch

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