The Times and Sunday Times have launched their new paywalled sites at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/ and http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/. But while the sites have some good features, which I was shown at a preview last night, I still can’t work out why users would want to pay for two different websites covering the same subjects …
What’s on offer?
The plan is to replace the current site – timesonline.co.uk – with two new sites, one for The Times and one for The Sunday Times. £2 a week (or £1 for an individual day) buys you access to both sites. There isn’t an option to get just one site.
The Times proposition
The Times won’t try to be a news wire – it’ll be offering fewer stories on its home page than most online newspapers with the aim being to enhance those stories.
Without the need to chase search engine traffic or page views for advertisers, the idea of covering fewer stories but in a better way sounds appealing.
Some articles, for instance, will have information graphic and tabs to let you explore the history and different aspects of the story without leaving the page. This package of content is brilliant – it works much better as an experience than lists of related articles or auto-generated tag pages.
The Sunday Times proposition
The Sunday Times site will look very different to the Times’s. It will have the sections people know from the paper. So, news, sport and business – but also culture, style, travel, In Gear and the magazine.
The site won’t be updated much during the week – though the aim is still for it to function as a 7-days-a-week site.
But instead of trying to compete with the Times sites for news, it will offer readers the ability to browse and explore Sunday’s content over the week, concentrating on galleries, videos and interactive graphics.
Why two websites?
The decision to replace the current timesonline.co.uk site with two brands and two websites – thetimes.co.uk and thesundaytimes.co.uk – has obviously meant some thinking about how they work together.
They seem clear enough that they are two products – a daily news site and a site that you’re meant to browse all week. But it was interesting that the reasons they talked about for this were the different editorial teams, the “different but overlapping audiences”, the different values of the newspapers, and the different reasons why people buy the Sunday paper vs the weekday paper. Continue reading