Post-Paywall, NYT Share Of Newspaper Web Traffic Drops

The New York Times‘ share of total page views to newspaper websites dropped by its largest margin in more than a year in April, the first full month that it had its paywall up. ComScore (NSDQ: SCOR) data shows that the NYT‘s share of newspaper website traffic was 10.6 percent last month, down from 13 percent in March and 13.5 percent in May 2010.

The newspaper site’s overall page views plunged 24 percent, while unique visitors were off 13 percent, although the NYT tells AdAge that those big drop offs can be attributed in part to a slow news month after a busy March. Indeed, the comScore data shows that overall traffic to newspaper websites was down, albeit to a lesser extent. Page views to newspaper websites in the U.S. fell 7 percent in April, while unique visitors dropped 0.3 percent.

The comScore figures seem to be in line with an earlier, more limited report by Experian Hitwise, which showed that visits to the NYT website were down as much as 15 percent each day and page views were off as much as 30 percent each day during the 12 days following the paywall’s launch, compared to days during the previous period.

The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) has never said exactly how much of a hit it expected to take to page views and unique visitors under its paywall plan, which limits visitors to 20 articles a month before they are prompted to pay up. Executives have said that the traffic fall-off they have seen to date has been better than expected. They reiterated that to AdAge, telling the publication that “these are actually better numbers than our internal projections.”