News Corp.'s Times unblocks Google, looks to get new subscribers

TechCrunch | PaidContent

Articles in The Times of London and The Sunday Times will again appear in search engines, almost three years after their parent company News Corp. announced it would yank them.

Visitors from search engines -- oh heck, let's just say Google and be done with it -- will see previews of articles and be invited to subscribe: "not the most warm of welcomes," Ingrid Lunden writes in TechCrunch.

The change "does suggest that, having signed up 130,751 digital subscribers since mid-2010, the publisher is having to look in new places to maintain customer acquisition momentum," Robert Andrews writes in Paid Content. News Corp. will still block NewsNow and Meltwater, Andrews writes.

When the change was announced, Jon Miller, News Corp.'s digital chief digital officer (he's leaving his job at the end of this month, the company announced in August), told the U.K.'s Telegraph search engine traffic wasn't valuable.

“The traffic which comes in from Google brings a consumer who more often than not read one article and then leaves the site. That is the least valuable of traffic to us… the economic impact [of not having content indexed by Google] is not as great as you might think. You can survive without it.”

News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch gave a speech at a cable television conference in 2009 and asked "should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyright"; Poynter's Rick Edmonds said later that year he didn't "think that the logic of Murdoch’s saber-rattling exactly speaks for itself."

Lunden says the move was "dramatically negative for the newspaper."

Between the paywall going up in June 2010 and November 2010, comScore reported that some 4 million unique monthly visitors had disappeared. And pageviews were a disaster, down by more than 90% to 4 million in September 2010 from 41 million in May (pre-paywall).

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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