sun wall
Credit: By fluffisch on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Digital subscribers to The Sun have more than doubled in the first year since the launch of its paywall, as new figures released by the outlet report 225,000 readers paying for its digital bundle.

The figure represents a 120 per cent growth compared to numbers released in December 2013, but fails to halt the decline in overall sales, down two per cent year on year.

"This is a foundation for us," said Chris Duncan, chief marketing officer at News UK, "and we're very much building on what we know about what customers do."

In the days of digital it's not just about news but everything you hang around thatDavid Dinsmore, editor, The Sun
Speaking at a press event yesterday announcing the figures, Duncan said The Sun has been constantly tweaking its digital offering in response to reader habits since the launch of the paywall last summer.

What was originally "a complicated system of products" has been simplified, he said, to encourage people to get more out of their devices and to smooth the transition between different apps for different uses.

The Sun+ bundle includes the newspaper app as well as Sun Goals, featuring video highlights of Premier League matches, and the new Dream Team fantasy football competition, introduced for the "second season".

Subscribers also receive consumer offers with discounts on cinema trips and family holidays as 'perks' of their monthly subscription.

David Dinsmore, editor of The Sun, said the broad array of sport, entertainment and news content – both original and curated – was central to attracting and retaining readers.

"In the days of digital it's not just about news but everything you hang around that," he said.

And although social media has become integral to how many publications attract readers, Duncan and Dinsmore stressed dealing with readers directly, rather than through third party platforms, was preferable for News UK.

"It would be a terrifying time to be a publisher dependent on Facebook," Duncan said. "Their designs on how a publisher should publish is becoming problematic."

While recognising the importance of social media, Duncan said it was equally important to plan for a future beyond current platforms as News UK looks at the "long-term game" for the strategy it wants to pursue.

"Across the industry we're seeing a number of different models tried out," said Dinsmore, "and I don't think there is going to be any single answer, but with ours we are starting to see some success."

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