News International’s two biggest online properties, The Sun and the The Times, both received fewer unique visitors in September than August according to data supplied to the Beehive by media analysts comScore.
The Times online product which went behind a paywall in July continued to lose unique users last month, only attracting 1.454 million visitors in September 2010, compared to 1.493 million in August 2010, a decrease of 2.6 per cent.
In addition, total page views fell sharply again from 7 million in August to just just 6 million in September.
In total, the Times has lost 765,000 unique users in the three months since it went behind the paywall, a 34.5 per cent decrease in monthly unique visitors and a 70 per cent decrease in total page views. It is important to note that visitors to the site is not an indication of paying subscribers as a user will be logged by comScore even if they hit the paywall login page and immediately ‘bounce’ away from the website. At present News International have still not released official figures on the number of subscribers to The Times website or its iPad application.
Perhaps more surprising is the dip in unique users reading The Sun products online which lost 169,000 users in the past month alone. The website delivered 4.508 million unique users in September 2010, down 3.6 per cent from 4.677 million unique visitors recorded in August.
Total time spent on The Sun online decreased 9 per cent from 77 million to 70 million minutes from August to September and total page views slumped 8.7 per cent from 128 million to 117 million in the same period.
The Sun numbers include visitors to the News of the World website which is soon to join The Times behind a slightly cheaper paywall of its own.
News Int might be pleased to see that when the numbers are broken out, the News of the World product grew a huge amount in the past month, rising from 1.162 million in August to 1.562 in August, a whopping 34 per cent increase.
However, as encouraging as this is for the free to air News of the World website, these statistics could cause concern on two levels.
Firstly, the NOTW growth highlights an even bigger loss in sun.co.uk readers than is initially apparent. Secondly, if the only growth part of the News International’s online tabloid brands follows the same pattern as The Times when it goes behind a paywall, by November the company could have all its UK news websites in user decline.
Now both The Sun and The Times decreases may sound small in percentage terms, but when compared to the positive growth of News International’s online daily newspaper rivals, the figures look somewhat more bleak.
In the same period, the Independent online grew over 9 per cent from 3.580 million users in August to 3.903 million uniques in September and the Telegraph’s online product grew by 3.4 per cent from 4.212 million users in August to 4.353 million in September. Because the Guardian changed their counting system with comScore to a UDM methodology in September, there is no comparable data.
News International’s primary tabloid competitors also enjoyed online growth last month.
The Daily Mail increased unique users by 7.6 per cent, rising from 9.002 million to 9.682m in September, and the Mirror online unique user base rose from 3.267 million to 3.731 million, an impressive increase of 14.2 per cent.