Digital Transformation

News UK sees digital subscribers for The Sun soar 120% as its CMO brands Facebook mobile publishing model 'terrifying'


By Natalie Mortimer | N/A

November 25, 2014 | 3 min read

News UK-owned title The Sun has more than doubled subscribers to its digital content, as its chief marketing officer Chris Duncan branded Facebook's mobile publishing proposal "terrifying".

While subscribers at The Sun rose by 120 per cent (up from 102,000) since the title last reported figures in October 2013, it has still failed to offset a decline in its overall paid readership (including its ABC October figures of 1.98m readers), which fell by 2.2 per cent.

However, speaking at a press conference in London, The Sun's editor David Dinsmore, claimed the figure is a promising start considering the annual decline of paid readership in the middle/popular sector of the market in October was 8 per cent.

The Sun introduced its paywall in August 2013, and Dinsmore said the surge in subscribers "confirms that customers will pay for digital content", with the majority of users paying £7.99 per month to access a digital bundle of sports rights, online games and enhanced digital editions across tablet and smartphone.

Speaking about the news that Facebook is reportedly pushing publishers to start publishing within the Facebook mobile app, Duncan said the thought would be terrifying for those publishers who depend on the social media site to drive web traffic.

"I think it would be a very terrifying time to be a publisher whose entire web traffic was dependent on Facebook," he said. "Facebook is moving into a world which has designs on how publishers should publish and that is problematic.

"We're in a fortunate position where we can use Facebook as a channel but ultimately we are dealing with our customers direct and we're dealing with them in our apps. So while social media is a big driver to get our stories out, to get discoverability, if it was the only thing we did we'd be struggling as a business."

Asked about the effect that apps such as Vine, where users are able to post clips of goals almost instantaneously, has on The Sun’s exclusivity deal to broadcast Premier League football highlights, Dinsmore admitted Vine was an "issue" and called on Twitter to ape YouTube and “step up” to address rights protection.

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