Market News & Analysis

The Sun plans to remove website paywall

The Sun newspaper has announced its plans to scrap its paywall for online content, instead it will offer its website content for free.

News UK, which publishes the Sun, as well as the Times and the Sunday Times has decided against trying to compete against rivals who offer free content, such as Mail Online.

The Sun is the UK's biggest-selling tabloid paper. In 2013, the company decided to move its content behind a paywall, following a similar decision over the Times and the Sunday Times. In July 2013, before the paywall, the news provider reported more than 30 million unique users.

However, chief executive Rebekah Brooks told staff on Friday morning (October 30th) that the company had made a U-turn on this strategy and, as of November 30th, the paywall would be gone.

Ms Brooks was reappointed to the role of chief executive in September. This followed her being cleared of all charges related to the phone-hacking scandal.

Experimentation

In an email, Ms Brooks told her staff about the end of the paywall. "I recently shared with you the future priorities for the company and am excited today to tell you more about our plans for the first of these: growing the Sun's audience," she wrote.

"This will mean setting the Sun predominantly free in the digital world from 30 November. By happy coincidence, this is also Cyber Monday, one of the best-performing days of the year for online retail," she added.

Ms Brooks also acknowledged that recent months had been "filled with experimentation" at the newspaper. She noted that the standalone political site SunNation was popular at election time, while the firm has also been working to increase the number of shareable articles on social media. "We entered platform partnerships with Apple News and we will be a major player in Facebook Instant Articles," she said.

In order to make the transition to a free site, the Sun has recruited Keith Poole, the former managing editor of Mail Online in the US, to the role of digital editor.

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