News UK is set to launch a range of new Sun+ smartphone and tablet apps in the New Year after the company announced they have passed the 100,000 subscribers mark.
The Sun started charging for access in August and now more than 117,000 people are said to be subscribing to the service. Some 102,000 of those are accessing the paper either online, on smartphone or by tablet while the remaining 15,000 subscribers use special codes published in the print edition.
According to News UK, it has only taken four months for Sun+ to pass the 100,000 mark compared with a year for The Times when it went behind a paywall..
Sun editor David Dinsmore said: “This is day two for Sun+. It is the first big milestone after day one which has launch. It paints a different picture of the market place.
"I came into the job in June and looked at how things fundamentally chanced over four years. A few years two of readers had a smart phone. Now seventy percent of our readers own a smartphone.”
According to Dinsmore, four years ago the Sun had a print edition Monday to Saturday with a website on the side.
“Now we have print, video, tablet, social media over seven days. We have nine platforms and we are fully paid for across all of them. The challenge is how to put content in all of those channels because it is consumed in a slightly different way.”
He add: “The one-fact story is no more. In the past we would have to put out a spoof first edition and change it for the second with a big exclusive. Now that has changed. Until now, all our customers had a very casual relationship with us. Now we have 117,000 who we have a far more intimate relationship. We are only at the start of that relationship and it will require more work.”
As part of that change, the editorial department in The Sun will be restructured, with the recruitment of additional staff along with the move to the new office in London Bridge.
According to Dinsmore there is one significant advantage of placing all of their content behind a paywall.
“Luckily we are not in the god-awful headline world of search engine optimisation. It is all about bringing people in through the front page. We are constantly experimenting and trying news things such as the timing of stories and see what works well.”
In the first instance, Dinsmore does not believe that The Sun will be a 24/7 operation.
“I think we are in an 18/7 world. In reality, our market place is the United Kingdom with its 60 million people. They do sleep for on average six hours a day. We will be running 6am until midnight.”
Dinsmore said the change in the nature of news could be seen with the paper's treatment of its exclusive on Monty Python re-forming.
He said in the past, the paper would have spoofed the first edition, and put the real story in a second edition.
Instead they went live with it at 10pm.
“Monty Python was a one-fact story. There was no added value to it, such as an exclusive story with pictures. We went live with the fact and the BBC followed it up with their classic ‘BBC understands’ line. They wouldn’t credit us with breaking the story.”