News of the World website dismantles paywall

News of the World has taken down its paywall and opened up its website, following News International’s announcement that the last edition of the paper will be printed this Sunday (10 July), following the latest hacking allegations levelled at the tabloid.

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The News International (NI) Sunday red top introduced a rigid paywall last October, charging readers, who also had to register, for access to content beyond the homepage, but the website is now open and fully accessible to all.

A NI source says that while the firm has not yet decided how to reimburse News of the World digital subscribers, “changes” to the digital suite of products were in planning. Current expectation is that a “Sunday Sun” will be created, but how this will translate digitally is unclear.

News of the World’s sister title, Fabulous, which operates as a standalone brand, edited by Rachel Richardson, will continue in print and online, a NI spokeswoman confirmed.

Earlier this week, before the latest hacking allegations emerged, another NI source said that News of the World had begun to look at ways to open up its paywall and make it as “flexible” and as “frictionless” as possible. A range of options including Facebook Credits, Paypal and social media were being explored.

In July last year, News of the World received 1.1 million unique visitors viewing 14 million pages for an average of 8.1 minutes a visit, according to ComScore. This figure, unsurprisingly, more than halved as a result of introduction of the paywall.

According to Nielsen figures for May, thesun.co.uk had 2.6m unique visitors, down 15% on May 2010. Newsoftheworld.co.uk had 0.6m unique visitors.

This story first appeared on New Media Age. For more digital stories and analysis from NMA click here now

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