My current morning routine as I sit on the tube into the office is to flick through Twitter and Facebook and click and open any interesting news articles that I find. That way, when I go underground and lose The Today programme I read through news from many sources – the Guardian, Telegraph, BBC, and even the New York Times. I doubt if I’m the only news fiend that does this.
This morning I noticed that it was never The Times.
Despite being a paid subscriber (which really I have to be to be in my job) articles rarely crop up from The Times. And that got me wondering about the paywall. I’ve been critical of The Times paywall before (see here) but it seemed to be bucking the trend and reports suggest that it is making money through the Hard Wall. But surely it can’t be sustainable. There cannot be enough loyal readers, who only want the Times to keep it up. With so much traffic now going to The Times’ competitors via social media, so much ad spend being lost, it can’t be long until – like its sister paper The Sun – we wake up one morning to find the paywall has fallen.
That said, it doesn’t have to come completely down. I would suggest that the model adopted by the Telegraph or the New York Times is a better option (a limited number of articles for free before the paywall hits). That way you get the loyal customer bases subscribing and the more fickle SM crowd ad spend. Seems pretty sensible to me.
I wonder how much of the Times position is now stubbornness on behalf of the owner.