Times claims subscriber boost: 'You can charge a premium and still increase circulation'

The Times managed to increase its number of digital subscribers despite increasing the price to £4 a week.  

Katie Vanneck-Smith, chief marketing Officer of News UK, said these new figures are a vindication of the company's decision to introduce a paywall. 

"You have to remember, since July 2010 we have increased the price of our digital subscription and we have still been able to increase numbers.  

"You cannot be half pregnant, you either charge for your content or you don't. Consumers aren't stupid. I think these figures prove that not only can you charge for your journalism, but you can charge a premium and still increase circulation."

According to Vanneck-Smith, a firm paywall is required for a media organisation to be in a position to fund quality journalism.

Rival title the Telegraph launched a metered paywall in April this year which allows readers to view 20 articles per month before they are required to take out a subscription.

The Financial Times also has a metered paywall, with the limit set at eight articles a month. Whereas the Telegraph and FT are both profitable, the Times titles make a loss.

But Vanneck-Smith said: "You can just chase clicks and eyeballs by publishing celebrity gossip and looking for people to share your content on social media. But that type of customer is not loyal and they have a voracious appetite. They will go elsewhere. We have proved that if you put quality journalism behind a paywall people are willing to pay for it.

"In each of our editons, whether it is print, online or tablet we offer value-added content." 

News UK today announced it has topped the 350,000-subscriber mark for print and digital versions of The Times and the Sunday Times.

The company said it now has more than 150,000 digital subscribers across all platforms with a further 200,000 print subscribers paper – an overall increase of 50,000 since July 2010.

Digital editions of the paper now make up more than a quarter of total sales.

News UK chief executive Mike Darcey said: “The Times and Sunday Times pioneered digital subscriptions and today we can see a solid customer base across every platform, including print.

“Customers are clearly happy to pay for world-class news, sport, comment and analysis, and have welcomed a string of enhancements, new apps and the exclusive access to Premier League Goals this autumn. Charging for our journalism allows us to invest in our journalism, creating an even better experience for our readers and helping to secure a sustainable future for our titles.” 

The company said it has been able to increase sales despite increasing the price of a digital subscription from £2 a week in July 2010 to the current rate of £4 a week.

To help grow subscriptions, the company now offers a range of bundles including a five-day print option, a Sunday-only deal or a combined print and digital package.

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