UK Times Goes Tentatively Paid From Friday At £1-A-Month

We’ve covered every step in Times Newspapers’ conversion to paid websites – the initial plan, the confirmation, the blocking of stories from search engines and the launch in May of the two new websites behind a registration wall on a free preview basis. There’s really little left to add…

Except the actual date on which the free preview will end…

Rupert Murdoch’s News International just confirmed this will happen on Friday, with one more sweetener – although the actual pricepoints are £1 a day, £2 a week or free with a seven-day newspaper subscription (at last sight, £408 per year plus a 29 percent discount), and are going live at £1 for the first 30 days.

This is somewhat tentative. It can’t be as if most Times readers didn’t know the actual prices were going to be introduced. The switch has been well marketed to its core constituency and Times journalists have been getting out the message in their stories, too – some marked opinion (Caitlin Moran), some not (Richard Woods).

But effectively discounting the price by 30 times is a worthwhile exercise in getting those readers, some of whom will now be used to logging in via their free Times+ membership, in some kind of associated paying habit.

A poll commissioned by paidContent:UK of Times Online readers found a total 23 percent rated themselves variations of “likely” to pay, with four percent extremely unlikely, 13 percent somewhat likely and 76 percent not at all likely.

News International is also mailing some of its key contacts free complementary membership in an iPad-sized box containing a premium book designed to show off its journalism.

CEO Rebekah Brooks, from the announcement: