Times websites get '1.6m users behind paywall'

The websites of The Times and the Sunday Times newspapers have retained 1.6m users since parent company News International introduced a paywall early last month, according to web metrics company Comscore.

The number of users accessing thetimes.co.uk and thesundaytimes.co.uk almost halved since they launched in May as free-to-access websites, according to data released today.

Figures from Comscore suggest a combined total of 1.614m users visited the sites in July – a drop of 42 per cent from the 2.794m that accessed the sites in May prior to the introduction of paid-for access.

The number of pages viewed also dropped from 29m in May to nine million in July – a fall of 68.6 per cent, the figures suggest.

In addition, the time spent on the site by the average user fell from 7.6 minutes in May to four minutes by July – a drop of 46.8 per cent.

News International launched new websites for The Times and Sunday Times in May ahead of the introduction of a paywall on 2 July.

Once paid-for access was adopted News International ran an introductory offer which allowed 30 days access to both sites for £1.

The normal subscription rate for the sites is £1 for 24 hours access or £2 for one week’s access, however seven-day subscribers to the print editions of The Times and The Sunday Times are entitled to a free website subscription.

Over the same May to July period, the data shows that overall UK newspaper websites lost total audience of 0.3 per cent.

According to Comscore: Mail Online’s audience shrank by 2.9 per cent over the period, while Guardian.co.uk lost 13.3 per cent of its readers, The Sun lost 2.4 per cent and Telegraph.co.uk lost 14.6 per cent.

Comscore claims to chart the behaviour of more than two million web users worldwide.

The traffic figures it supplied differ markedly to earlier assessments of how well the Times websites have performed since the paywall was introduced.

Last month, figures from Hitwise suggested two thirds of its online audience ‘visits’ had been lost following the introduction of the paywall.

Media blogger and former Times media editor Dan Sabbagh has claimed that 150,000 readers registered for the free trail period and just 15,000 had agreed to pay.

News International, which withdrew The Times and The Sunday Times from the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s online measurement system ahead of its paywall introduction, declined to comment on the Comscore figures.

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