In a sobering assessment of the future of the news industry, the head of the Times and Sunday Times predicts a future where “no more than 10” global English-language news brands will survive by paid subscription models.
But speaking to The Drum, Chris Duncan, managing director of Times Newspapers Ltd, reveals that the two Times news brands have registered 2 million new users through a “two free articles a week” scheme that it launched in July last year.
He also discloses that the Times has enjoyed a “big” lift in online engagement in the past month after Google relaxed its policy on surfacing paywalled content in its search results. This change follows sustained pressure on Google from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp publishing empire.
The Times’ acquisition of a large database of new readers is almost wholly in addition to the 458,000 digital and print subscribers to the two newspapers and gives Times Newspapers a level of audience scale that it has not enjoyed since James Murdoch surprised the media world by putting its content behind a paywall in 2010.
The 2 million registered users (half of which are based outside of the UK) offer the two titles a “pipeline” of readers, through which the publisher will hope to bring a fresh cohort of subscribers, including a “new generation” of younger readers, Duncan says.