Times unveils its new websites ahead of pay-for-access

News International unveiled its new websites for The Times and The Sunday Times today ahead of introducing a pay wall for the sites.

The Times website
The Times website

The publisher is offering a free trial period for registered customers following an initial eight-week registration process before bringing in the pay wall.

The new dedicated sites replace the combined Times Online site. From June, a charge of £1 for a day or £2 for a week will give customers access to both sites. Access to the digital services will also be included in the seven-day subscriptions of print customers to The Times and The Sunday Times.

News International’s decision to introduce a pay wall has polarised opinion among publishers. Guardian News & Media has held to the line that it has no intention of charging readers for content and News International has stated that it expects to see its website visitor numbers drop dramatically.

Katie Vanneck, Times managing director of customer direct, explained to Marketing Week in March that News International was pursuing a long term strategy to have “fewer but more valuable customer relationships. We will know where those customers are and have a direct billing relationship with them.”

The publisher is no longer publishing online data from audit body ABCe as figures are not seen as relevant to the new model. However, the publisher continues to subscribe to ABCe and is working with the body to help develop more suitable metrics related to reader engagement.

Industry observers suggest that the introduction of a pay wall is designed to help drive sales of the print copy as a full subscription to the newspapers includes access to the websites.

Times editor James Harding says: “From today, all readers who register will have access to our award winning journalism, with new digital features that offer an unparalleled level of coverage and interactivity with our journalists.

“The site will include live interviews with the people who shape the news and exclusive video, giving readers the opportunity to get more from their favourite sections. This is just the start.”

The Financial Times has just launched a new measurement model to calculate the global reach of the brand’s journalism, both online and offline, on an average day. The estimated Average Daily Global Audience (ADGA) metric has been developed with the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and is designed to provide an audited global paid-for circulation number, which counts everyone that pays to consume FT content across print and online.

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