Time will tell for the Times… and the rest of media

Over at the FFX Digitial UX blog they’re estimating that The Times has lost about two-thirds of its market share by visits.  Meanwhile, the Guardian calculates this shortfall in “online readership” to be about 90%.

The calculations themselves are interesting; for instance, the Guardian uses the upstream traffic percentage (25.6%) of users from the Times+ registration site to the Times’s as a measure of how many people may have converted to the registered product or otherwise.

This is baseline at best since it doesn’t seem to take into account the possibility that a user might register and go on to visit the Times (or Sunday Times) in another instance  or alternatively, if the user registered by other methods or channels which meant that they need not visit the Times+ registration place before visiting any of the Times’s sites.

It will be interesting to see when ComScore updates and releases its June 2010 data (which should be soon), since it will show traffic to the Times directly and I haven’t read anything yet about News International pulling out its properties from ComScore’s measurement panel.

Regardless of which “estimate” you believe to be true though, its no doubt that the decline in audience will be significant. However, it is still very early days in this paywall experiment and with NY Times set to raise their own metered paywall in 2011, you can be sure that there will be more to come in terms of learnings, experiences and analysis from the rest of the media world and other interested commentators.

In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to keep a watching brief as more information (hopefully) on the Times’s journey comes to light; specifically around online advertising volumes or revenue, subscription revenue and churn rates.

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