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The Times, sometimes known in the United States as The Times of London, was founded in 1785 and has a daily circulation of about 500,000. The Sunday Times is a weekly broadsheet founded in 1821 with a circulation of about 1.1 million. In 2012, the Times’ British total readership was estimated via survey at 5.74 million, with nearly all of that coming in print.
The two newspapers were merged by the Thomson Corp. in 1966 and were purchased by Murdoch in 1981. The papers’ holding group, Times Newspapers, is part of News International, a subsidiary of News Corp. In 2012, News Corp. began exploring a full merger of the two papers by turning them into a single seven-days-a-week publication. Times editor James Harding resigned under pressure as a possible precursor to such a move. Both newspapers were losing money as recently as 2013, though less than they had been several years prior. In 2011, the papers reportedly cut about 100 of their 700 editorial positions, and they cut 20 additional editorial jobs in 2013.
The Times released an iPad app in May 2010 that cost £9.99 for a 28-day subscription. The Sunday Times has also announced plans for an iPhone app. The Times has also launched an online TV service and experimented with liveblogging through CoverItLive and with graphically mapping the engagement on its political stories.
The two papers were the first British newspaper website to charge for news content, when they charged overseas users for access in 2002. They also began charging for their archives in 2008 and have developed a membership program called Times+ in 2009.
As part of Murdoch’s move toward paid news online, the Times and Sunday Times websites went behind a paywall in July 2010, which allows access for £1 for a day or £2 for a week, though seven-day print subscribers are given access. The website was relaunched in May 2010 in anticipation of the paywall, with the Sunday Times being given its own site.
Sunday Times executive John Witherow predicted a traffic drop by as much as 90 percent before the paywall was put up, and after an immediate dropoff during the paywall’s trial period, traffic was down almost 90% when reported in July and November.
The Times reported in November 2010 that its digital versions, including its website, iPad app, and Kindle edition, had about 100,000 paying customers, plus another 100,000 who received free digital access as print subscribers. The paper reported similar subscriber numbers in June 2011, 128,000 paid digital subscribers in October 2012, and 153,000 digital subscribers and 207,000 print subscribers in 2014.
As part of the paywall, the sites’ articles were also removed from search engines such as Google, though previews of their articles were re-added in 2012. The sites had also blocked the online aggregator NewsNow in early 2010.
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