British paper The Sun tempts 100,000 over online paywall

LONDON Fri Dec 6, 2013 11:06am EST

LONDON Dec 6 (Reuters) - The digital version of The Sun, Britain's most popular tabloid newspaper, attracted more than 100,000 subscribers in the four months since it started charging for online content, publisher News UK said on Friday.

Newspaper groups are looking to develop additional revenue streams from online publishing to counter falling print circulations and tough advertising markets, but The Sun is the first mass-audience British tabloid to put all of its online content behind a paywall.

"Though it's early days, we are encouraged by the strong start," David Dinsmore, the paper's editor, said.

The Sun, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is following in the steps of his other British titles The Times and Sunday Times.

News UK said on Friday that the total print and digital paid-for sales of The Times was 527,000 in November, 1.9 percent higher than its print sales in June 2010 before it started charging for online content.

The Sun has 101,779 subscribers for its digital package, which costs 2 pounds ($3.26) a week, and a further 15,590 print readers accessing online content by using codes printed in the paper, News UK said.

News UK is using soccer goals video packages, including England's Premier League, to encourage online take-up.

Average daily paid sales of The Sun, across both print and digital, are running at about 2.2 million, the company said. This is about 6.5 percent lower than a year ago, but an improvement on the 11 percent decline in the first half.

The online packages have proved more popular with men, but News UK Chief Executive Mike Darcey said he expects the 60-40 split to narrow as the company promotes more of its online entertainment content and special offers.

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