The folly of the decision by Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks (News UK’s CEO for a second time) to put The Sun behind a paywall continues to be exposed, even though the paywall was ended late last year, freeing up content in the Murdoch clan’s key UK mouthpiece. The latest National Readership Survey, which combined the print and website readership figures for Monday-to-Saturday papers (but not Sundays) shows The Sun had flatlined in the past year — unchanged as the seventh most read UK national daily, as a rise in website readers offset a sharp plunge in print readership.
The Sun finally dropped its online paywall in November last year. A decision taken by Brooks (who introduced it in August 2013). In both cases the driving force behind the decisions was Rupert Murdoch, News Corp’s chairman. In March this year, ComScore gave The Sun 2.8 million readers a month on desktop (up from 1.8 million) and 2.9 million per month on mobile (up from 2.3 million), so on that metric, the decision to drop the paywall has paid off. But the increase on desktops and mobile merely cancelled out a large fall in readers of the actual print editions of the paper — from an average of 13.750 million in the March period last year to 10.755 million in the same period this year.
The biggest beneficiary of The Sun moving to a paywall was the Daily Mail and its free website, MailOnline. They were second in 2013 behind The Sun and moved to No. 1 when the Murdoch/Brooks decision to introduce the paywall had The Sun’s website traffic plunge 62% in a matter of months.
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