Tue - 16.01.2018

Times of London raises its prices for digital users

Times of London raises its prices for digital users

Tough times call for tough measures... And as News International continues to go through a hard period, the Times and Sunday Times of London have announced a steep hike in the amount they charge users for a digital subscription package.

The package, which includes access to the Times and Sunday Times website, mobile and tablet editions, will be raised from £2 a week (£8.88 a month) to £4 a week, writes paidContent. However, author of the article Robert Andrews notes that web-only customers will continue to be charged £2 for access. What's more, existing subscribers will not have to pay the new, higher rate until 2013.

Andrews quotes a spokesperson from the Times, who insists: "we're not 'doubling' our price. We're introducing a new pack that includes all digital products. Previously, we were offering iPad access as complementary offer."

But Andrews is not convinced. "The difference may effectively be semantic," he writes.

Despite controversy when the Times introduced its impenetrable paywall in July 2010, figures released by News International last week show that its numbers of digital subscribers have been rising steadily. News International states that the Times now has 119,255 digital subscriptions, while the Sunday Times has 113,818.

Why would the Times risk harming this growth in digital subscriptions with a significant price rise, even with the caveat that existing subscribers don't have to pay more immediately?

Andrews suggests some possibilities:

1) The Times sees its product as a success and thinks it can raise prices without a huge impact on new subscribers.

2) The Times knows its average iPad user base is very wealthy, and can afford the hike.

3) The paper is worried that it might not be able to attract more users, so if wants to make more income from the ones it already has.

4) The publisher wants to make more money from iPad and mobile editions to compensate for Apples fees.

5) News International wants to stem the Times' overall economic losses as the aftermath of the phone-hacking scandal continues to affect the company.

Several of these options could be the case but two things seem certain.

Firstly, on average, Times digital users are well off. According to News International's digital product director Nick Bell, who was interviewed in paidContent last month, an average Times iPad user earns £109,000 a year. 15% of people who read the Times iPad edition on a daily basis earn over £200,000 a year. News International's website also notes that the Times is the most popular quality UK daily for adults who earn £50,000 a year or more.

Secondly, as circulation of UK quality dailies declines, many are being forced to raise prices in one way or another. Last September the Guardian raised its cover price from £1 to £1.20, and in November the Telegraph followed suit.

The Financial Times already charges its users significantly more than the new Times digital rate. The FT asks for £5.19 a week for digital access as part of a yearly subscription, or £6.77 a week as part of a monthly plan.

Sources: paidContent (1) (2), sfnblog (1) (2) News International, Reuters, Guardian


Hannah Vinter


2012-02-24 13:29

Shaping the Future of the News Publishing

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