News International revealed this morning that it had secured just over 50,000 monthly subscribers paying to access its digital versions of The Times and Sunday Times since the paywall dropped in early June.
The British publishing wing of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation confirmed that to date it had achieved more than 105,000 paid-for sales to allow customers to access Times digital content – with around half of these being monthly subscribers.
The headline figure is a cumulative total of those paying to access Times and Sunday Times content online, via the iPad and through its Kindle edition.
In addition to the 50,000 monthly subscribers, News International said the remaining customers included those who had bought a single digital pass and those that had taken out an initial 30-day trial for £1 and not renewed.
News International said that on top of its digital only subscribers around 100,000 print subscribers had activated their accounts since launch taking the total paid audience for digital products close to 200,000 – allowing for some duplication.
News International withdrew its websites from Audit Bureau of Circulations accreditation in January in preparation for the launch of the paywall, however the previous month Times Online attracted 19,854,510 unique users.
In May the relaunched websites of The Times and The Sunday Times were accessed by 2.794m – according to Comscore – each of whom had to register for a free trial.
That same month Sunday Times editor John Witherow told a public debate that 100,000 people paying £2 a week for access would result in annual revenue of £10m – but that would cover around a tenth of Times Media’s £100m annual editorial budget.
Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, declared herself pleased with the results.
She said: ‘We are very pleased to the response to our new digital services. These figures very clearly show that a large number of people are willing to pay for quality journalism in digital formats.
‘It is early days but renewal rates are encouraging and each of our digital subscribers is more engaged and is more valuable to us than very many unique users of the previous model.”
James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp in Europe and Asia, said: ‘We are excited by the progress that we have made in a very short space of time.
‘In a few months since we launched these new products, the total paid circulation of The Times has grown.
‘This reinforces our belief that our journalism is valuable and that customers will respond to the investment, innovation and quality that are hallmarks of our titles and our company.”
News International charges £1 to access the websites of The Times and Sunday Times for 24 hours or £2 for a week’s subscription but seven-day subscribers to the print editions of The Times and Sunday Times are given digital access for free.
In addition to its websites, News International charges £9.99 per month for readers to subscribe to its Times iPad edition – the Sunday Times will launch its own iPad edition in the coming weeks.