Digital subs to Sunday Times up 66 per cent in 13 months

The number of digital subscribers to the Sunday Times website has risen by 66 per cent in the past 13 months.

The number of subscribers to its sister website times.co.uk rose by 56 per cent during the same period – and the paper now boasts a paid audience (combined print and digital) of 523,938.

The Sunday Times had 125,989 digital subscribers at the end of April 2012, up from 76,383 in March 2011 - News International reported today.

Combined with print sales of 955,248 in April, publishers News International said the Sunday title now had a paid audience of 1,082,237.

The Times had 130,751 digital subscribers at the end of April, compared with 83,942 in March 2011.

Despite the increase both titles have seen their total paid for sales, including print, drop slightly over the last year – The Times was down 1 per cent and The Sunday Times fell 2 per cent.

News Internaitonal put both websites behind a paywall in June 2010, taking an all-or-nothing approach that shuts out search engines such as Google and ensures only paying subscribers can proceed beyond the home-pages.

This paywall is more stark than paywalls at rival titles such as the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, which allow limited free access and let casual browsers view articles via search engines.

Despite claims by media pundits that the paywall gambit was doomed to fail, the number of digital subscribers has risen every month since at least March 2011.

Two months ago News International announced digital subscriptions for first-time subscribers were being doubled to £4 a week.

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