Jim Chisholm: Times paywall will fail

Media consultant Jim Chisholm told the Society of Editors Conference today that the Times paywall gambit will fail.

Chisholm noted that in terms of millions of pounds of advertising per hour spent with various media platforms in the UK, newspapers are doing comparatively well. He said his research suggests that £4.2m is spent on advertising per hour spent by consumers on TV, he said £1.2m is spent on the radio, £8.2m online and £23.5m on newspapers.

He noted that the average reader spends 30 minutes a day with a national newspaper versus around four minutes with a national newspaper website and said: ‘This is why the Times paywall will fail, because people are already spending so little time online.”

He added that the Times paywall project ‘can’t work because the amount of money they will lose through lost advertising is far greater than the amount made up for with their paywall…If the Times are going to charge and the Guardian and Telegraph aren’t, readers are just going to move somewhere else because they are reading on average four newspapers a day online.”

Chisholm added that those who argue newspaper print circulations are being hit by giving content away for free online have got it wrong.

He said: ‘There’s no statistical evidence that the internet has damaged circulation any more than a whole range of other factors. I’ve not been able to find any evidence of this anywhere, and I’ve studied this in a dozen different markets.”

The Times revealed earlier this month that since puttingThe Times and Sunday Times websites behind paywalls in early June the titles had attracted 50,000 new monthly subscribers and a cumulative total of a further 50,000-plus pay as you go online readers.

The free to air Times Online website used to attract around 20 million unique users a month.

Jim Chisholm’s presentation slides to the Society of Editors Conference

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