Timesonline.co.uk shuts

Timesonline.co.uk has shut down, as News Corp advances towards a paid content publishing model.

Timesonline readers are now being redirected to thetimes.co.uk, the front page for The Times, The Sunday Times and Times+ online, which require registration for a free preview throughout this month.

Although it is not known when charging for “premium content” will commence, News Corp has today made several moves to advance its paid-content trajectory.

Yesterday, it announced, from New York, the acquisition of e-reader platform Skiff, to help optimise the translation of layout and graphics across mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and netbooks, as well as an investment in US-based nascent payment platform Journalism Online, a universal pay account that provides consumers access to “quality” online newspaper and magazine content.

The platform, which will aggregate paid-content sites such as thetimes.co.uk and nytimes.com, aims to be a more convenient option for online readers, and is expected to help News Corp streamline its digital revenue collection.

A spokeswoman for Journalism Online said: “The investment from News Corp helps us in building out this platform. It gives us the stability for doing it in the long haul. There are some other publishers also testing behind the scenes.”

Journalism Online founder Steve Brill has long been vocal in the US about the value in paid content. He told the OMMA conference in New York last year: “Websites with original content can, over the next two years, engage 8-15% of their visitors and convince them to pay for some portion of their content, while maintaining most of the page views they have today.”

Meanwhile, a survey by research group Harris Interactive and Paidcontent has suggested that up to a fifth of Times Online readers could be converted into committed subscribers. It surveyed more than 2,000 frequent and occasional readers of the ceased site Times Online, finding that while just 4% said they were “extremely likely” to pay for the website content, 23% reported variations of “likely”, from “very”, to “fairly” to “somewhat”.

Its research indicated that payment method – daily, weekly, monthly or annual subscription – could be a deciding factor.

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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