Back in September, The Sun announced that it would erect a "paywall" around it's website, requiring readers to pay for access after a certain number of views. The newspaper has yet to release data on how the move has affected hits on the site or revenues, but I've heard through the grapevine that results are mixed, with a significant number of people signing up for access to the site, with many more working around the paywall or going else where for their news. Like The New York Times, The Sun has deliberately made its paywall fairly porous, allowing users to access stories by clearing their browser's cookies or through other means. This means that readers can access individual stories for free if they really want them, but they're hoping that frequent or long-term readers will sign up to pay the relatively meager $2.99 per week for unlimited access without all the fuss.
One aspect of the paywall that I have been critical of from the start is that, unlike The Times, The Sun requires its print subscribers to pay an additional fee to access the website. This just feels like to insult to the paper's core customers, those who have stuck by it while others fled.
Not surprisingly, media analysts have found that papers that tie web access to print subscriptions have had more success. This great piece on Mashable talks about the success of pay walls at The Times and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, noting, "For both papers, tying online access to print subscriptions has been key to success. The Strib saw nearly 20% of its new digital subscribers also buy a Sunday subscription, while The Times said 800,000 print subscribers have linked their accounts for digital access." It's time for The Sun to recognize it's mistake on this policy.