Last week we learnt that the London Times said that they have 50,000 online subscribers since they put up a paywall accessing the site four months ago. They said that they had 105,000 subscriptions but only half this figure paid more than a once off £1 subscription fee and it includes those using the Kindle or the Ipad app.
I’m hearing that a paywall of sorts is going to go up at the Irish Times again. (They took the last wall down in 2008). Pressure to monetise the online content is coming from losses in 2009 of €27.9m. Shortly after the publication of these results Irish Times Online Editor Hugh Linehan’s requested suggestions for online content from readers, it seems that many in Tara Street are desperate to make some money. The €50m that they paid for Myhome.ie must hurt the board each time they think about it, though the company claims that the property site will be in the black by the end of the year.
Linehan has openly admitted that the online product needed to improve but how are they going to make people pay for access to the paper and the website, blogs and breaking news content? Especially when we have sites rolling out news (and possibly original conent?) like The Journal.ie and several others in gestation. Competition from RTE’s online product is frequently referred to by independent broadcasters and print sources as being unfairly advantaged, however the broadcaster has indicated that the online content is not funded by the licence fee.
The Irish Times have recently launched an epaper product and claims that there are 1,500 daily sales with 30,000 ipad application downloads. The launch of the e-paper earlier this year meant it was more difficult to use the website to access the online content however e-paper subscribers could pay to read the paper online in an easier format.
So would you pay to access the print content of the Irish Times? Maybe if they included some original online content, liveblogs, blogs etc.?