Saturday, December 12, 2009

Newsday Web Traffic Down 21 Percent Since Paywall Was Built

In other Newsday news ..

Its web traffic dropped 21 percent in November, the first full month since it erected a paywall on its site.

Nielsen data shows that drew 1.7 million unique visitors in November, well below the 2.1 million total for October. Page views were down to 18.6 million in November, which is a 34 percent drop from the previous month.

The year-to-year comparison showed a 43 percent decline in unique visitors in November.

Newsday is the first major newspaper in the United States to construct such a pay wall charging $5 a week for unlimited access to its site. The charge equals a weekly subscription for the paper. Newsday print subscribers and Optimum customers have total free access to the website.

In October I questioned whether outside readers would accept that structure. While I enjoyed keeping up with my former colleagues' work, I'm not going to pay $260 a year to do so in a tough economy. Visitors from outside Long Island will get their news elsewhere. And those visitors could represent a sizeable number of people who came to the site (maybe 21 percent?)

A reduction in pape views and unique visitors will result in loss revenues from advertising, and that's bad news for any newspaper.

The first month was rough for the website, and management can only make decisions on the paywall with more data. It will be interesting to see what now editor Debby Krenek will do with it if the ratings continue to fall.

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