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Days of Free Football Articles on The Times Coming to an End

Newspaper Online Sites Consider Charging Users

For those who haven’t heard, starting this May-June, readers of The Times and The Sunday Times online will be forced to pay a fee or subscription in order to read news from one of Britain’s biggest and most trusted news sources. Some 20 million monthly readers of the two sites will be effected by a change that analysts say will cause “almost all” of the online readers to look elsewhere for their daily dose.

Both sites, currently under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, will soon have a £1 per day or £2 per week fee to access articles. Also launching this June is a new site called Times+ which will feature exclusive events, offers and extras and will cost £50 per year as a stand alone subscription.

The new roll out of both sites aren’t short of bells and whistles to tempt long time readers into taking the plunge and subscribing for the once free content. I was recently able to preview the revised sites, and it’s safe to say they definitely have an elegant, glossy design. This risky crossover surely has undergone countless hours of research, design and testing to assure the switch goes off without a snag. It’s safe to say that if there were massive problems, the already weary paying customer may be scared off for good.

One of the major selling points I’ve been able to discern from the new sites are the interactive features that are sure to be unique and informative. To name a few:

  • Exclusive photo gallery and online video
  • Daily live Q & A – quiz your favorite journalists
  • Interactive graphics and more

Still though, are rivals the Guardian and the Telegraph chomping at the bit as one of their competitors enters into the forest of the unknown? In short, Yes. Both are sticking by their tried and true format of free online articles and news. The Daily Mail Online will also stick with their format of free articles saying, “A pay-wall MIGHT make a little money — we will make a lot.” So who will pay for news?

What Does This Mean for Readers of EPL Talk?

The answer to that question of course depends on how much you frequent the site itself for news and articles. Obviously, most readers of this site will peruse the articles from the football section of the Times Online which feature some of the best writers in the UK including, but not limited to Patrick Barclay, Oliver Kay, Gabriele Marcotti and more.

Will You Pay?

James Harding, editor of the Times, recently stated that the paper is “going to lose a lot of passing traffic”, yet also added that the pay basis was “less of a risk than just throwing away our journalism and giving it away for free”. Regardless of your opinion, Harding’s comments were definitely of an interesting perspective from a man who realizes the risk of the new format. But “throwing away our journalism” may be a step too far.

I can’t see myself paying for content when I can get similar and equally as good writing and reporting from other UK based sites. And what’s to become of the highly popular TheGame Podcast? Will the Times attempt to charge for the weekly show that features Nick Szczepanik and Marcotti? This and other variables, such as the impending success or failure of the change over to a paid format are still widely unknown.

I believe that if a paid format is to truly work, what’s being paid for must offer something that one couldn’t simply find elsewhere. In an age where not only every news outlet has a website, but also a mobile app, the market for instant and free information is so saturated it makes a paid format almost laughable.

What’s to become of the new Murdoch method of setting up a paywall for The Times? Will other news sources soon follow Murdoch’s lead? Will such a risky business model thrive or fail in these still volatile economic times?

We’ll all know in a few short months, but until we do, enjoy your free articles on The Times while you can.

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  1. Brad

    April 28, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Why not just make an iphone/ipad app? Guardian charges $3 for their app yet they’ve had over 100,000 people download it.

  2. Eious

    April 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I doubt it but I don’t look at it as a terrible thing

    If their site has enough ORIGINAL content, I may pay

    If not and they just report the same stuff, I will stick to the other sites.

    Most of their stories are not BRAND NEW stories that can’t be found elsewhere

  3. scott alexander

    April 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    It just points out a need for a print journalism subsidy like BBC and NPR in the states.

  4. Pakapala

    April 28, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Pay for what? The Times come 3rd when it comes to my UK football news. Their podcast comes far behind The Guardian’s, though I was starting to get used to listening to it every week.

  5. EvertonfanKY

    April 28, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Thats Murdoch for you. This man is a danger to the world.

    • MNUfan1991

      April 28, 2010 at 11:11 am

      I will still thank Murdoch for bringing full EPL coverage to this country though.

      • EvertonfanKY

        April 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm

        Murdochs company hasn’t done a very good job at bringing full EPL coverage to the US.

        Subleasing of games to Setanta/ESPN whilst FSC shows paid programming.

        FSC.TV problems

        The FSC HD Debate FSC +HD Debate

  6. MNUfan1991

    April 28, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Noooo! I will also miss Clarkson’s car reviews.

  7. man99utd

    April 28, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Never!!! The Telegraph is just as good. This should show everyone why FSC is in the shape its in and the product the provide….Murdoch is a pillock

  8. unclesand

    April 28, 2010 at 9:17 am

    good riddance. the guardian’s miles better anyway.

    • Peter

      April 28, 2010 at 12:51 pm

      Couldn’t agree more.

  9. Tyson

    April 28, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Youd be insane to pay for this. Journalism and the papers are in the crappy situation they are in now for numerous reasons. Rather than address those problems they are just finding new ways to alienate people with a Draconian paywall.

    I think this will be another nail in the coffin of these publications and I for one am glad for it.

  10. Peter

    April 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

    It’s all about perceived value. If they can make it seem that you get something of extra perceived value when compared to their rivals, like something free if you subscribe for a year like dvd’s or such.

    Where the cost vs gift is seen to be a good compromise. I mean journalism is dying and papers are giving away all kinds of crap to make you by the print copy. Now If they get their thinking caps on make iPhone iPad apps where you click to buy the paper (a bit like the Marvel Comic App, although they charge too much for their comics I think, but good free content) I bet you will see some up-take then watch the other companies run to the new shiny fad.

    If it can save journalism I’m all for it, but 1 pound a day is too much (same as print version) but 2 pound for a week is good (ah ha, perceived value). If you get it delivered to a mobile device daily it will be a good idea. I can then sit at the table having breakfast reading the Times on my iPad.

  11. Miak

    April 28, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Sure, i’ll pay….not!!
    Just like a popular daily pod state side, once they started charging i was like, thanks bud, but i’ll spend my time elsewhere.
    Look, unless all media outlets buy into this model, i just dont see how it can be sustainable or even sensible.
    But hey, what do i know?

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