Before The Paywall: News International Launches Reader Loyalty Schemes

Charging for much online news may be an uphill struggle, as our recent reader research series showed — but monetising content areas and playing on readers’ specific interests and habits could be the way to do it. Perhaps mindful of this, News International has relaunched its reader loyalty schemes for The Times and News of the World and soft-launched the pay-to-play Sun Quiz Live online gameshow.

Katie Vanneck-Smith, MD of NI’s customer direct department, says in a statement: “We are moving away from the traditional model of volume in favour of developing more direct relationships with our customers based on their interests and passions.” But will these services eventually be linked to online content access too? Guardian News & Media is similarly planning a readers’ club to foster reader loyalty.

Times+ is a new reader retention scheme which extends on the Culture+ project which launched in 2008 and now has 90,000 members who get access to exclusive events, gifts and offers. Added to that is a Travel+ service which includes events, excursions a copy of the Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Anyone can buy either package for £50 but Times or Sunday Times print subscribers paying a discounted £6 a week get one free (and can get both for an extra £25). The company says more content-specific subscription deals are on the way.

News of the World is appealing to its readers’ frugal instincts with a free subscription money-saving site. Readers get £5 to spend on a range of deals when they sign up to the Captain Cash site. Could there be exclusive offers for people that also buy a print/online subscription?

— Having planned to launch it this summer, The Sun has now soft-launched its online gameshow Sun Quiz Live, in which players pay to take part between 1pm and 3pm every weekday. The Freamantle Media-produced Sun Quiz makes use of NI’s new broadcasting studios and will charge £0.15 to take part in each game, but players must spend a minimum of £3, as reports.