Times Online claims 200K paid users: but where's the detailed breakdown?

Rupert Murdoch's Times Online paywall experiment has released some highly selective statistics this morning. According to the Times's spin, they've got some 200,000 paid users for their paywalled newspaper site, and that this means, "our journalism is valuable and that customers will respond to the investment, innovation and quality that are hallmarks of our titles and our company."

But the numbers are a little odd. First of all, 100,000 of the 200,000 paid subscribers are Times print subscribers who get the online edition for free (proving, I guess, that people like free stuff?). Of the remaining 100,000 "paid subscribers," some unknown number are people who bought access to a single article or paid for a £1 trial subscription for a month, or bought the iPad or Android App. All of these categories are surely "paid customers," but they're not monthly subscribers paying full freight to access the site — we don't even know how many people who paid for one day's access ever paid for a second day's access (or converted to a regular subscriber).

In the best case the Times got 100,000 people to sign up for an ongoing, monthly subscription. In the worst case, 80,000 people paid £1 for a month's access and never re-upped; 10,000 people bought a single article and never came back, 9,000 people paid for the Android/iPhone app and stopped using it after the first day, and 1,000 people bought monthly subscriptions.

The Times isn't saying which scenario is the correct one. As one commenter on the Guardian's front-page story points out, "If the answer looked good for this concept, they'd have told us about it, surely?"

The last time I wrote about this, the Times's Tom Whitwell (Assistant Editor), wrote in to say that they weren't yet releasing "specific numbers," but that was back in July and now it's November, and the numbers are still pretty nonspecific.

Times claims 105,000 online subscribers