Despite Paywall, Traffic Up at the Wall Street Journal

New Wall Street Journal owner Rupert Murdoch had hinted he might open up more of the business newspaper’s online content for free. But will these new numbers give Rupert pause?

Site traffic is up:

The Wall Street Journal’s Web site has enjoyed significant traffic growth of late, while still managing to keep its vaunted—and some predicted, doomed–subscription model intact.

WSJ.com reached 16.2 million unique users in June, a whopping 94 percent increase versus the same month last year based on the company’s internal traffic numbers. The site’s total page views also surged 45 percent to 150 million in June when compared to last year.

Of course, it was last August when News Corp. agreed to merge with Journal parent company Dow Jones. Then, speculation was rampant that WSJ.com was set to dump its longstanding subscription model and become a completely free site. That speculation was fueled by several public comments by News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, along with the increasingly popular thinking that WSJ.com could not increase its audience fast enough to capitalize on the rapidly growing online advertising market if the subscription model held.

Yet though the free site never happened, it appears as though WSJ.com has been able to attract new users in part by making more individual articles available for free on the site (June was the fourth month this year to reach a new audience high, said officials). The site’s growth spurt has seemingly lifted the entire Web franchise, as the Wall Street Journal Digital Network–WSJ.com, Barrons.com, MarketWatch.com and AllThingsD.com combined to reach 25.2 million visitors in June, nearly a 75 percent increase.

In addition to making more stories free (you can subscribe to so me of those free features via RSS here), the Journal has created a Facebook app allowing Facebook users to share Wall Street Journal stories with friends on the social networking site.

Perhaps a strategy of mixing free, easily shareable and premium, one-of-a-kind content is continuing to pay off for the Journal?

More

Blake Rutherford this week on newspapers and online content

Arkansas Rep. Steve Harrelson weighs in as well

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