90 per cent won't pay for new Times websites, claims survey

Most of those that consume news online would be unwilling to pay for content regardless of the suppl

Nine out of ten people would be unwilling to pay the £1-per-day or £2-per-week fee to access the new websites of The Times and The Sunday Times, a survey has found.

Most of those that consume news online would be unwilling to pay for content regardless of the supplier, said the study examining digital entertainment activity, as 71 per cent believed there was sufficient free news content available across the web.

The Digital Entertainment Survey asked respondents whether they would be willing to pay the £1/£2 fee to access each of a dozen UK news websites.

The BBC website was the site most were willing to pay for; however, 90 per cent still said they were unwilling to pay for access to this site.

The websites people were most unwilling to pay for were The Independent and The Sun, where 93 per cent said they were not willing to pay for access.

News International intends to introduce its £1-per-day or £2-per-week fee to access The Times and The Sunday Times from next month, currently they are free to access to registered users.

The study suggested that 91 per cent of people would be unwilling to pay to access The Times, while 92 per cent wouldn't pay to access online content from its sister Sunday title.

The research tallies with the assessment made by John Witherow, editor of The Sunday Times, who last week suggested that "the vast majority of readers" - perhaps more than 90 per cent - would be lost once paywalls are introduced.

The survey found that across a range of prices (from 50p to £10) for a week's unlimited access to a news site, payment of £1 per week was considered the most reasonable.

However, 48 per cent of respondent still believed that it was unreasonable to charge £1 for a week's access to online news.

Some 28 per cent said they would be interested in work-related news, but only if their employers would pay for access.

Nine per cent of respondents claimed they would pay to see news content if it provided them with personal advice with the same number claiming they would pay for news content if it provided expert opinion.

The 2010 Digital Entertainment Survey was conducted by Entertainment Media Research polling 1,592 UK consumers online on behalf of the media law firm Wiggins.

Oliver Luft writes for the Press Gazette.