News International will be erecting a paywall around The Sun's website to coincide with the launch of its debut Premier League football video highlights being made available on the site from 17 August.
Speaking at a press briefing in Wapping last night, News International's chief executive, Mike Darcey, said it was a "fairly safe assumption" that the Premier League highlights deal would be used to "kick off the [paywall] transition."
Explaining the decision to spend more than £20m on acquiring the premier league football rights, the former BSkyB leader said it was a "really strong statement of where we want our business to go".
Darcey added: "I think we will increasingly be presenting our journalism in environments like the iPad, which are optimised for video, and we will be there alongside other providers for whom video is very natural territory for them.
"I think if we’re not operating in that world then we look a bit thin after a while, so I think it's important to go in that direction."
The 2013-2014 Premier League begins with 10 fixtures on the weekend of the 17 August. Most of the games are included within the online and mobile highlights package acquired by News International in January.
It is possible there will be an initial trial period requiring registration-only for a few weeks around the launch of the football highlights, that will offer up to eight 30-second clips of action during live matches on their mobile platforms.
News International will be able to provide clips of all games apart from those that start at 3pm on a Saturday. Clips from the 3pm games can be made available after the final whistles from 5.15pm.
In addition, the rights will allow the newspapers to offer extended clips of up to 60-seconds from each game for a week after it has been played.
The paywall for The Sun comes three years after News International's quality news brand, The Times, shook the market by introducing the first non-permeable paywall for a general news site in July 2010.
Nearly four years ago, when Rupert Murdoch originally announced plans to charge users for online content in August 2009, he said all News Corp's newspapers would go behind paywalls.
News International’s Sunday tabloid, the News of the World, began charging users for its online content from October 2010, before it was shut down amid the phone-hacking scandal in the summer of 2011. The Sun, the UK's biggest-selling newspaper, has always had open acess to its online content.
News International's leading executives will be presenting new opportunities surrounding its Premier League rights at this year's Media360 event on 6 June. See more details of Media360's celebratory 10 year anniversay and industry speakers at http://www.media-360.co.uk/
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