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Summary:

Growing online subscriptions and still-falling print circulation mean the 227-year-old newspaper nicknamed ‘The Thunderer’ could soon be consumed more in pixels than in ink.

At this rate, News Corp’s UK newspaper The Times could be read mostly digitally by 2014.

Latest figures show mandatory digital subscriptions, which the publisher introduced in mid-2010, now make up a whole quarter of the publisher’s combined print-and-digital circulation…

At current rates, those lines seem due to cross some time in late 2013 or early 2014

Of course, that’s not solely due to digital growth, which is actually sluggish. Much of the convergence is due to ever-decreasing print circulation.

Times digital-only subscriptions hit 130,751 after adding 908 new subscribers during April. These are small numbers. But, proportionately, they are at least on par with The New York Times’ 454,000 subscribers in the U.S..

The publisher’s tactic – combining winnowing print and growing digital numbers yields a cross-format circulation figure that, broadly, is holding steady…

And, save for discount promotions, each of those digital subscribers is paying between £2 a week (for web access) and £4 a week (for mobile and tablet).

That means The Times, just like Rupert Murdoch wanted, is progressively – if slowly – becoming a business with a higher degree of guaranteed revenue certainty.

A print-to-digital crossover would depend on The Times maintaining or quickening the pace of digital sign-ups. And it’s likely the paper has a natural audience ceiling, though it hasn’t quite yet been hit.

Following renewed reports this week (via The Telegraph) that News Corp, principally COO Chase Casey, may choose to sell Times publisher News International, Rupert Murdoch said (via Guardian.co.uk):

“News Corporation remains firmly committed to our publishing businesses, including News International, and any suggestion to the contrary is wholly inaccurate. Publishing is a core component of our future.”

  1. wordpressreport Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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