As Expected, New York Times Erects Paywall

The New York Times is starting to roll out digital subscription plans in Canada this week, with US and international subscriptions set to take effect on march 28th. Readers will be able to view the paper’s home page for free, and read up to 20 articles per month at no cost. You’ll also be able to access the “Top News” section of the company’s mobile apps for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS for free. For anything else, you’ll need to pay up.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • If you want full access to the web site and smartphone apps, you’ll need to pay $15 every four weeks.
  • For full access to the web site and the tablet app for the iPad you’ll need to find $20 in the couch cushions.
  • Full access to the tablet and smartphone apps plus the web site will run you $35 every four weeks.

Existing newspaper subscribers will be able to continue accessing all of the digital content for no additional charge. That includes customers who sign up for weekday only, or Weekender Friday-Sunday only service. Because the New York Times is currently offering a 50% discount for up to 12 weeks on some print subscriptions, I can actually sign up for the weekday print edition and digital editions for $3.70 per week, compared with $3.75 per week for the web and smartphone plan. But after a few months that price would double.

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8 thoughts on “As Expected, New York Times Erects Paywall”

  1. I’d buy an iPad to better enjoy newspaper content, but the pricing seems very high for the best content as I can get print versions for a fraction of the price, especially when using discounts or miles. Seems backward given the low distribution costs of e-delivery.

  2. As apple has already shown they can charge more for less(selling drm movie files(=worthless) for more then amazon charges for dvd’s) I dont know why paying more for less would be news to you Marte

  3. I think there is a subset of folks who are willing to pay for premium content. But most will find the Times fees too high.

    They need to hook us at lower prices and raise rates over time. They also need a simpler pricing model – three tiers of online access, dependent upon device, is ridiculous. It’s not like we’re talking higher bitrate streaming video.

    For comparison, $15 a month is about what I pay for Netflix and Hulu Plus combined. For further comparison, The Daily is $40/year. (Although it’s not very good yet.)

    In conclusion, I have no intention of subscribing.

  4. As pointed out on Lifehacker, the NY Times themselves sanction some loopholes which will be easy to exploit. From the FAQ:

    “We encourage links from Facebook, Twitter, search engines, blogs and social media. When you visit through a link from one of these channels, that article (or video, slide show, etc.) will count toward your monthly limit of 20 free articles, but you will still be able to view it even if you’ve already read your 20 free articles.

    “When you visit by clicking links in Google search results, you’ll enjoy up to five free articles per day.”

  5. But how are they keeping track… do I need to create an account and sign in with every visit from a shared link? It all seems like too much trouble.

  6. “I think there is a subset of folks who are willing to pay for premium content. But most will find the Times fees too high.”

    Felix Salmon has the best take on this. The NYTimes is probably worth as much to me as Netflix * 1.5, and after a month or two of cold turkey, they might get me to subscribe to the dead-tree version of the Sunday paper in order to get full access to the website. The NYTimes holds much more value to me than network and cable news, for example. Prior to the Age of Digital Reproduction, I used to buy the NYT every day.

    But let’s let Felix make his correct, IMHO, argument, with my bolding on the crucial point:

    “let’s say that realistically the NYT is going after a universe of no more than 800,000 people that it’s going to ask to subscribe. And let’s be generous and say that 15% of them do so, paying an average of $200 per year apiece. That’s extra revenues of $24 million per year … $24 million is a minuscule amount for the New York Times company as a whole; it’s dwarfed not only by total revenues but even by those total digital advertising revenues of more than $300 million a year.


    For the time being, though, I just can’t see how this move makes any kind of financial sense for the NYT. The upside is limited; the downside is that it ceases to be the paper of record for the world. Who would take that bet?

    The NYT is eating their seed-corn.

  7. Bizarre. I would’ve eventually paid for Sunday delivery to get full access, but Felix points to a sponsored giveaway, and now I’ve got a free 1yr subscription

    They’re jeopardizing their position as paper of record for the world, and passing up easy cash while they do it. It’s really odd strategery.

  8. with plenty of other news sources out there I don’t see anything unique about the NYT content or their perspective to warrant a subscription.

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