As you know, the state of newspapers (particularly the online variety)
are is a favourite topic of mine. So, I enjoyed this article about the declining state of newspaper readership, and the particular problem that online versions present:
Most printed newspapers’ circulations and readerships meanwhile continue their steady 40-year declines. More than 80 percent of American adults read a newspaper each weekday in 1964, but only 58 percent did in 1997, according to the Newspaper Association of America. In 2003, an estimated 54 percent read a newspaper each weekday. Most analysts predict that fewer than half of adults will read the paper every day by the end of this decade.
That article (rich, pleasingly, with hyperlinks) references The 1 Percent Solution?, which discusses the conversion rates of offline readers to online ones. Remaining on an Irish theme, it cites The Irish Times (a very good paper, in my experience) as an example:
Ireland.com logs 2,338,593 unique users monthly. After four months marketing paid access, the site generated 6,000 paid subscriptions, a conversion rate of 0.25 percent. Even if all subscribers chose the most expensive rate, Ireland.com would generate only $156,000 per month, or jut over $2 million annually, from subscriptions. That won’t go far.
Yowza, 0.25 percent? That’s pretty crap, isn’t it?