New research from Experian Hitwise has been used by The Guardian to suggests that 54,000 people a month are accessing content behind the paywall of The Times and Sunday Times.
The research was commissioned by Guardian News and Media and published internally on the company's intranet yesterday.
The only official figures released by News International so far, at the beginning of November, said that just over 50,000 subscribers a month paid to access the websites of The Times and Sunday Times – which have been pay to view since the start of June. News International said that there had been a further 50,000 pay as you go online purchases and that 100,000 print subscribers had activated their bundled online subscriptions.
According to the GNM memo, their research suggests that 2.36 per cent of UK visitors to the www.thetimes.co.uk domain in September went on to access content behind the paywall.
GNM has used that figure to extrapolate its own estimate of the numbers visiting The Times and Sunday Times websites and going behind the paywall.
'Based on this data, we estimate that a total of about 54,000 people globally are accessing content behind the paywall on the Times [and Sunday Times] website each month. Of the 54,000, approximately 28,000 are specifically paying for digital content. The remainder are print subscribers who get free access to the site as part of their newspaper subscription package."
GNM said in its memo that the research suggests some 41,000 of the 54,000 monthly users are based in the UK.
The memo states: 'UK visitors to the Times website who viewed content behind the paywall were more likely to visit other news websites – including the Guardian – than visitors who did not view content behind the paywall, suggesting that the introduction of the paywall has not increased loyalty."
Pre-paywall The Times had around 20 million unique website visitors per month, according to figures from ABCe.