In the latest in a long line of pinhead moves by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the plan to secure the content of their newspaper web sites behind paywalls is failing miserably. A report in The Independent reveals that…
“Faced with a collapse in traffic to thetimes.co.uk, some advertisers have simply abandoned the site.” and that “traffic to The Times site has fallen by 90 per cent since the introduction of charges.”
This was entirely predictable. When there is an abundance of news available online, why would anyone pay to receive information that is not distinguishable from the free information available elsewhere? Especially when consumers are already “paying” as a result of their presence being sold to advertisers. That’s traditionally how media produces revenue.
In addition to the traffic almost disappearing from the The Times site, reporters are anxious about having lost their voice and their reach into the community. What journalist would want to see their readership decline by 90%? What’s more, publicists are avoiding The Times because they know that their stories will not be seen by very many people.
It was reported last month that The Times lost 1.2 Million online readers since the paywall was erected. And that’s not all:
According to ComScore, the combined number of unique visitors to the two new sites has fallen to 1.61 million in July, from 2.22 million in June, and 2.79 million in May. […] The average number of minutes each user spent on the site was 7.6 in May, 5.8 in June and 4 in July. […] Page views have dropped from 29 million in May to 20 million in June and 9 million in July.
Some analysts insist that this is a long-term initiative. Maybe so. But by the time they might expect paywalls to pay off, the advertising market for online media will have matured and become profitable. However, anyone who follows Murdoch now into the paywall panic room will lose out in the ad market because they won’t have enough traffic to produce revenue.