Over the past decade, the newspaper industry has suffered a lot from declining revenues. So, paywalls can be the welcoming income source for the newspaper agency besides advertisement and promotions.
Hence, The Times launched a policy that most of the content is protected for paywall users. It implies that only those people can access the newspaper’s sections, homepages or articles that have paid subscriptions.
Later on, The Times split its one site into two new ones:
- The times: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/
- The Sunday Times: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/.
The interesting fact to notice is that they both are paid. The Times adopted a model to increase revenues by adopting paid subscriptions. So, let’s dive into this article to see how successful this idea is.
The question to ponder is whether readers pay for two different websites covering the same subject matter.
The main pinpoint that is pinching me is whether The Times would engage customers on protected sites or not. Or they will lose interest by getting the same content on print and digital versions. By adopting the right paywall strategy, The Times can even strengthen its relationship with customers.
However, you have to pay £1 to get access to restricted newspaper content for one day and £2 to get a subscription for the whole week.
Unfortunately, they do not provide you with the opportunity to get just one site.
The Times Layout
Usually, The Times doesn’t flood its newspaper with the crisper news that most newspapers do. They believe in eye tracking and show fewer stories on its home page to minimize the white spaces on the interface. The Times home page mostly covers business, sports, arts and sciences news.
However, they should use the best strategy with careful planning to retain traffic, as they are offering subscriptions on digital newspapers. But if you are an avid reader, you can have access to unlimited articles on sports, science, and many more with their attractive and eye-catching infographics.
In addition, the fascinating thing is that by clicking on any article, you can explore its background, history and several different aspects of the story. You can have an idea of the latest news by skimming the home page. So, this idea of providing content is marvellous in real terms.
The Sunday Times – Format
The Sunday Times site is quite different from The Times. It consists of sections, in-depth reporting of news with longer texts, and research-based, self-generated content. Hence, there are news, sport and business, culture, style, and travel segments.
However, the content of The Sunday Times is not updated much on weekdays. But, it is built to give you information seven days a week.
Moreover, you can explore technical and informative content by switching to The Times when you have a dire need to gather updated content.
Two Similar Websites
Well, the idea to replace one site with two must have some extraordinary thoughts behind it. The Times was the first newspaper to do so. It realizes the transition in the reader’s behaviour towards the digital world. It was initially free before the arrival of a paywall.
So far, they have come up with two different sister sites but not competitors – a daily news site and a weekly site that you have to browse every day.
Initially, people thought The Times had gone crazy. It seems illogical to split the newspaper into two sites providing the same content. Though they are physically different but content-wise the same websites, then why do customers have to purchase both? But the owners have given intriguing reasons to show that the two productive websites of the same newspaper are different in terms of editorial and values.
The Times – Tuesday Paper
Looking at the Tuesday newspaper of The Times, its Arts section shows what film or play to watch. However, after opening the Sunday Times in front of me, it consists of an immersive, informative interface.
But suppose if you have to explore reviews and book tickets, then you have to go to a different website and browse the specific tool. They actually have not placed any link to do so. They should make this tool available on The Times site as well.
Furthermore, if one is reading news on Tuesday on The Times, how can he know that there is a great interactive infographic of this news on The Sunday Times that could tell them the original aspect of the story?
Since the two sites comprise information that is overlapped and spread on two different locations, it would make trouble for the reader to drift on two sites to gather valuable information.
The Sunday Times – Splitting of Content
This sister newspaper usually does not get updated if they don’t get the latest news. So, it can create monotonous for the news addicts with similar news on the site.
The Sunday Times particularly consist of news about sports, matches and international games. So, they split the content in such a way that analysis of the match would be in Tuesday digital version of The Times, and then Sunday times will cover the match summary or report.
Though it creates a discontinuity in the news, and really it does not make sense that the match was on Monday, and you read its summary or report on Sunday. Also, they cannot publish the match report on both of their paywall sites. So, they have to manage the two sites in a planned manner to avoid customer layoffs.
After, digitalizing and splitting the content into two platforms might create absurdity for avid news/articles readers. How are they going to manage the content? Would they place the main heading on The Times and its details in The Sunday Times? Ridiculous!
What if they split the content across two websites in case of the match, though? Will The Times site publish a match report online, or will this only be on the Sunday Times site? Having two match reports seems a bit odd. But reading the analysis on the Times without easily getting to the Sunday Times match report seems weird.
Subscription of Just One Site
They have launched two sites that deliver the same information – the two sister sites, of course, the two products of the same newspaper are not competitors. So you should be free to subscribe to any one of them. But here, the case is quite different. You need to subscribe to both of them if you want access to their articles.
When the reader has to read from only one site, he should be given the option to pay for any one of them. But they are like forcing to come across on both sites though they are the same.
However, it might create some kind of confusion in the readers for the two brands having the same features. You should let users subscribe to pay for just one site. Forcing people to subscribe to both sites but keeping them entirely separate, with no cross-linking, seems a bit odd.
Access to Sites
Paywall states that you have to pay to access restricted content. So you must have to log in if you want to read articles in The Times and The Sunday Times. The two web pages of the same newspaper compel you to sign up or log in.
If you want to read a story, click on it, but immediately the box appears to either sign up or log in. That means without login you cannot read the story, which sounds weird in the real sense.
Nevertheless, you are not a subscriber, then The Times digital version is not for you. If you are a paid customer, then you will only be directed toward a story that you want to read.
After the advent of the paywall, the two sites allow you to read articles of your choice without any restriction. But if you want to get access to homepages you would like to read in the past, they would not be available. Before a paywall, at least the new sites should be fully accessible so that people could see what the sites were all about. But unfortunately, you are not provided with this option.
You can approach new and updated content if you are a paid customer. Otherwise, the site will provide you with old articles and old content on its homepage. However, this is unusual, but they are confident that they are increasing revenues by digital subscriptions.
Marketing of the Sites
It’s suspicious to see how they convince people to get subscriptions to the digital version of their newspaper. It would be interesting to overlook if advertisers go hand in hand with their paywall business model or not?
Surely, they must have some captivating plan that will dominate them out of all the critiques.
Overall, they must have faced some amazing views and comments on their digital paywall business model. They have designed themselves in such a way that search engine optimization is no longer their concern.
Though they are trying to distinguish daily news sites on the one hand and a weekly place on the other. But when the daily news site is usually six days a week and covers the same material as the weekly site. Then the reason to get a subscription to both the places is really out of consciousness.
Let’s see, will they be able to gather much traffic on their paywall, or people would stop relying on The Times as it is not only the single digital newspaper source to get information. Likewise, readers must want something creative and different to distinguish between two sites without paying.