The Sun is to to scrap it online paywall on 30 November just over two years after it began charging for website content.
The move signals the failure of the News UK title's paywall experiment and comes after The Sun began making web content available for free in June.
- June 2, 2016
- March 1, 2016
- February 16, 2016
The site attracted around 200,000 paying subscribers but has lost ground in terms of overall readership in the last two years.
In September the site attracted 1.1m 'unique browsers' per day, compared with 3.9m for the Mirror and 13.4m for Mail Online.
News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks said in an email to staff: "I recently shared with you the future priorities for the company and am excited today to tell you more about our plans for the first of these: growing The Sun's audience. This will mean setting The Sun predominantly free in the digital world from November 30. By happy coincidence, this is also Cyber Monday, one of the best-performing days of the year for online retail.
"Recent months have been filled with experimentation at The Sun. The standalone political site SunNation won plaudits at election time, we increased the number of shareable stories on social media, we entered platform partnerships with Apple News and we will be a major player in Facebook Instant Articles.
"The biggest recent success story has been Dream Team. We have a record 1.25m customers signing up to be managers and our content has reached 276m people on social media. Normally, we see interest drop off as the season progresses. This year, it’s going the other way thanks to Harry Burt and Harry Haydon’s clever use of engaging editorial content.
"Entering this new chapter for The Sun, we are in a strong position thanks to the many learnings we bring from the paid-for era. We know more about our readers than ever before. Our recent acquisition of Unruly, and our ongoing collaboration with colleagues at Storyful, further bolsters our position and will play a big role in how we supercharge our digital advertising capabilities.
"When all of this is added to our new blended revenue model of advertising, premium content and revenue streams such as Dream Team and other exciting opportunities on the horizon, I have every confidence that this digital evolution will ensure that the unique space The Sun occupies in British culture will be preserved – and enhanced.
"We believe taking this step will further our prospects for long-term growth, drive larger audiences for our valuable content in the UK and Ireland, and help preserve our ability to create great journalism for our readers for years to come.?
"As of November 1, Sun+ customers will no longer be billed for reading The Sun's digital content and we will be transitioning to a largely free world by the end of the month. Successful paid-for products such as Club Dream Team and the pdf tablet app will be retained."
The managing editor of Mail Online in the US (DailyMail.com) Keith Poole is joining the site as digital editor.