Has News Corp backed a winner?

News Corp’s readership numbers are on the up since they introduced their paywall last July. Surely that’s all good news?

The Times and The Sunday Times has grown from 50,000 monthly digital subscribers in October to 79,000 at the end of February. They seem to have brushed under the carpet the fact that the growth rate is slowing. They also lost 90% of visits the moment the paywall was cemented but that was expected by all.

However, volume isn’t the same as value because revenues are less online per customer due to their aggressive pricing strategy and smaller variable costs (another 1,000 iPad subs cost virtually zero to deliver, greatly less than a 1,000 physical papers).

It’s a bit disappointing that these figures aren’t broken down across all platforms but the papers say digital is digital regardless of your hardware so we can’t glean who’s using on Kindle, iPhone etc.

But the most surprising and impressive number is that churn is just 1%. 99% of subscribers in month one, stayed and paid for month two. Wow, talk about sticky.

This is interesting stuff. Tablets are having their 15 minutes of fame and The Times et al will only help reinforce that. Horse versus car; email versus letter; telephone versus telegram; paper versus digital news. All have an obvious ending but the sting in the tail sees all these publishers frantically trying to work out how to monetise their digital content. The world is watching.

Read the Guardian for a (free) great take on the numbers. You’ve got a savvy business mind, what do you think is the correct model?

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