Some early numbers are leaking on Rupert Murdoch's London Times paywall experiment.
After a month of forced free registrations and two weeks of a full paywall, Dan Sabbagh at Beehivecity.com says these are the numbers:
- 150,000 registrations (PaidContent says this is 12% of the online reader base)
Apparently, the 15,000 paid subscriptions figure is considered "disappointing."
And it is disappointing -- from the perspective of those hoping to save newspapers by erecting paywalls. The first burst of paid subscriptions -- from folks who just can't imagine life without the Times -- are likely to be the biggest burst that the paper gets. But if we're charitable and assume that the 15,000 online subs and 12,500 iPad subs grow to include the 150,000 folks who have registered (unlikely), this still would not produce a big revenue base.
At 2 pounds a week, the average online subscriber would produce 100 pounds of revenue a year. 150,000 of them would produce 15 million pounds of revenue.
15 million pounds of revenue would be nice for a company used to living on, say, $5 million of revenue. But it wouldn't even begin to offset the cost of the Times' huge newsroom.
Meanwhile, what has the new paywall done to online traffic? So far, it has dropped by two-thirds. That, apparently, is actually better than expected. One editor feared it would collapse by 90%.