America's most formidable newspaper will no longer allow readers unlimited browsing privileges on PCs or mobile devices, the publisher of The New York Times announced Thursday. The Old Gray Lady will now give away only 20 free online articles, slideshows, or videos per month, and require one of three digital subscription plans to go beyond that.
Home-delivery customers of the Times and the International Herald Tribune, owned by The New York Times Company, will continue to have unrestricted access to the site via computer, smartphone or tablet.
Mobile browsers will have access to the Top News section for free, but all other sections within apps will require subscriptions. The Times' home-page articles will remain free to everyone, as will links to stories posted on blogs or other sites, including social media, although there will be a daily limit to free articles on some search engines.
'An Investment' in Journalism
The Times' financial news service, DealBook, which began last fall, will remain available without a subscription.
The pay wall begins immediately in Canada so the paper can "fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch" on March 28, wrote Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. in a letter to readers.
"It's an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in the Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform," Sulzberger wrote.
The Times' three plans will be billed every four weeks, rather than the same day each month, with $15 buying full web access plus the smartphone app, $20 buying the web site and tablet app, and $35 buying all three.
The Times last tried to get online readers to pay for some content in 2005, but gave up two years later. A report this week from the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism found that newspapers are continuing to lose money, cutting staff to 30 percent of 2000 levels even as other media slowly climb in profitability.
Will It Help?
Pew's survey of 2,251 adults over 18 in January found that while nearly half say they get some of their news online, just 33 percent pay for a newspaper subscription, one percent had paid for a news app, and five percent have paid for any kind of local news content online.
In its most recent financial report in February, The New York Times Company said revenue was down 2.9 percent year over year.
But Rob Enderle, principal analyst of the Enderle Group, said the pay wall is anything but a quick fix.
"Companies often think that raising prices to increase revenues is the answer, but in competitive markets all that does is shift customers to competitors, and revenue instead drops," Enderle said. "The only time this works is in monopolies, but, even then, it will eventually create competition and collapse the monopoly if regulators don't step in first and do that. What they are trying, to my knowledge, has never worked in an open competitive market."
Posted: 2011-03-17 @ 11:23pm PT
No more New York Times for me. Hello Economist