News page views double after paywall lowered for Occupy Central coverage

SCMP.comHong Kong English-language newspaper the South China Morning Post has reported a large spike in traffic to its website,, since it lowered its paywall to give readers free access to its coverage of the Occupy Central protests.

Page views have increased by 110 per cent from 28 September, the first day of the protests, until 17 October, compared to the preceding three weeks. Unique users have jumped 45 per cent over the same time period, the paper told Mumbrella. lowered its paywall for stories about the pro-democracy protests on the day they began, and the site repeatedly crashed around that time.

All of the newspaper’s most read, most shared and most commented on stories currently are about Occupy Central, including a piece that suggested that journalists are being intimidated by police at the protests sites.

A media agency executive last week described Occupy Central as the SCMP’s “9/11”, comparing the protests to the terrorist attacks on the US in 2001 in terms of the magnitude of the story for Hong Kong and its best-read English-language daily.

The saga has drawn more international attention to Hong Kong than any story since NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was interviewed by the South China Morning Post last year.

Occupy Central has played to the tune of SCMP’s ambition to be a English-language window for the world on China.

The Hong Kong boss of media agency OMD, Roid Sim, told Mumbrella in an interview at the start of the year that this ambition was “bold” and “could be achievable”.

He said: “In Hong Kong, the SCMP is a very well established and respected brand with a strong heritage. But readership has been stagnant in recent years, and the number of Westerners moving to Hong Kong has not increased significantly. So perhaps looking at how to attract an overseas readership through makes sense, and from an advertising perspective this could mean attracting more regional advertisers.”

“China Daily is a rival English language newspaper, but that is owned by the government, so lacks the credibility of the Post,” he said.


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