'Irish Times' launches new epaper

 

The Irish Times website, irishtimes.com, has launched a new subscription-based epaper for online readers.

The epaper offers an exact replica of the daily newspaper in a digital format with enhanced functions such as audio versions and article translation. It has been on free trial for the last 14 days. It replaces the “Today’s Paper” section of the site, which was previously available free.

Since the launch of irishtimes.com in June 2008, all content, with the exception of archive and crosswords, has been available free.

Liam Kavanagh, managing director of The Irish Times Ltd, described the change as part of a broader strategy to differentiate between print and online, and to move away from a perception of the website as “the newspaper on the web for free”.

There is no change in the range of content available to view on irishtimes.com, but online users will now have the opportunity to read the newspaper in its digital form.

“To ensure a successful future, it is critical that the newspaper and website are developed as independent but complementary platforms,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“Along with other media organisations internationally, we are exploring new revenue streams in order to continue supporting the quality journalism which our newspaper creates on a daily basis.”

Pricing for the epaper is on a sliding scale, running from €1.80 for a single day to €9 for one month, €25 for three months and €89 for 12 months.

Mr Kavanagh said the service offered very good value to readers who wanted their online newspaper in its traditional format.

The initiative takes place against a background of increased debate within the international newspaper industry on how best to ensure how the newspaper and online operations can be sustained financially.

In the UK, News International has signalled plans to begin charging for access to the websites of the London Times and the Sunday Times in the next few months, while in the US, the New York Times has announced plans to begin charging for its online version in 2011.

According to most recent audited traffic figures, irishtimes.com is Ireland’s most popular newspaper website, with 2.3 million unique users per month.

More details at www.irishtimes.com