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Putting a figure on the Times paywall audience

Given that News International isn't saying, it is left to others to guesstimate the size of the Times and Sunday Times online audience since the papers went behind a paywall earlier this month.

At the weekend, the media commentator Dan Sabbagh (a former Times man himself) reported that 15,000 people have agreed to pay for the service to date. That's just 10 per cent of those who signed up for a free trial a month or so earlier. (On a more positive note, it's understood that 12,500 people are paying to read the papers on the Apple iPad.)

Meanwhile, the blogger and new media consultant Malcolm Coles has come up with an ingenious way of putting a figure on the daily audience. Coles has compared the number of comments on a particular Times story with comments to a similar story on the Guardian website, on the assumption that the ratio of readers to comments is roughly the same across news sites. He extrapolates his numbers from there and comes up with 46,154 unique users a day.

There are plenty of caveats in Coles's conclusion, but taken together with Dan Sabbagh's numbers (and remembering that subscribers to the existing Times+ services and subscribers to the print edition automatically get access to the site), these estimates appear to make sense.

Over to you, News International.