Will you pay for The New York Times online?

January 20th, 2010

When The New York Times starts charging for frequent access to its online content starting in 2011, will enough people pony up to make up for lost advertising revenue? Obviously, that’s the big question not only for the Times, but for the newspaper industry as a whole.

Once in place, you’ll be able to get a few articles (unannounced number yet) for free each month but will have to pay a flat fee to get more content after you hit that wall.

Times’ executives have not answered some key questions yet, including the price that the public is going to be asked to pay. Also unanswered is what is the overarching goal: to protect the print product (by creating a barrier to reading the content online, driving people to print) or to boost revenue for online (which is quite a gamble).

Those goals are fraught with peril and nowhere near guaranteed for success. I’m sure a lot of publishers are glad that a player as big as the Times is jumping first.

What do you think? Are you a frequent nytimes.com reader? Will you pay to keep that up in 2011?

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Entry Filed under: Newspaper

  • http://www.PNWLocalNews.com/ paulbalcerak

    Not only will I not pay for access to NYTimes.com, I'll actively avoid linking to them. Principle and everything aside, what good am I doing anyone by linking to the New York Times when X percent of them have already hit their monthly limit? I may as well seek out similar content elsewhere, which is open and free for everyone to view.

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  • http://hightalk.net/ George F. Snell III

    Risky for the NYTimes. At this stage, I'm not sure readers are willing to shell out money for articles they have been getting for free for many years. But until I hear what the plan is – I'll keep an open mind.

  • http://www.adamsherk.com Adam Sherk

    Daniel and Robert, while this doesn’t exactly advance the discussion I thought you might like this joking list I complied of Top 10 Reasons The New York Times is Really Putting up a Paywall :)

  • http://oldmedianewtricks.com Robert Quigley

    Paul – that is definitely a consequence of doing this. They'll basically be opting out of the “link economy.” The question is whether a newspaper Web site can survive with far fewer incoming links. Thanks for the comment! – Robert

  • Eric

    I appreciate the NYT’s desire to make money, but you’re right about what a paywall will do to the paper’s inbound links and ability to influence public conversations.

    This comment was originally posted on Paul Balcerak on WordPress

  • http://paulbalcerak.com/ paulbalcerak

    I think it’s smart to look for multiple sources of revenue; I just think, like Jay Rosen said, it’s a huge gamble to make one of those sources customer subscriptions. I also wonder whether these ideas are based in principle or in the reasoning of sound business practices.

    This comment was originally posted on Paul Balcerak on WordPress

  • Eric

    True. They are taking a big risk. Some interesting information from VentureBeat on how the paywalled WSJ site compares to the current NYT site in terms of attracting traffic from Facebook, blogs, and Twitter. The WSJ may not have as many social-media-savvy subscribers, but the numbers are still pretty telling.

    http://venturebeat.com/2010/01/20/will-the-new-york-times-meter-kill-traffic-from-social-media/

    This comment was originally posted on Paul Balcerak on WordPress

  • http://paulbalcerak.com/ paulbalcerak

    Good point/good link. My only issue with comparing the Wall Street Journal to other news outlets is that the WSJ can get away with charging for access because it offers a tangible benefit to one’s investment—namely, their business/stock tips offer an opportunity for the subscriber to make money. The same goes for ESPN and other sports journalism sites who charge for premium accounts; a person will pay for extra analysis on ESPN because it represents an opportunity to make money gambling.

    The fundamental problem with The New York Times or any other site that brokers exclusively in general information and wants to charge for it is that the information is freely available on thousands of other sites. WSJ/ESPN are able to charge because people can expect to make money off of the money they put into the sites. It’s much more difficult to convince someone that there’s material gain to be had in being in the know on current events.

    This comment was originally posted on Paul Balcerak on WordPress

  • http://friendfeed.com/laurenmichell Lauren

    What happens to curation and link journalism once content goes behind a paywall?

    This comment was originally posted on FriendFeed

  • http://www.greglinch.com/ Greg Linch

    I was reading a Paid Content article and thought of something you mentioned above. From an NYT chat:

    Social media access will remain open, similar to search. “If you are coming to NYTimes.com from another Web site and it brings you to our site to view an article, you will have access to that article and it will not count toward your allotment of free ones.”

    This comment was originally posted on Paul Balcerak on WordPress

  • http://paulbalcerak.com/ paulbalcerak

    @Greg – OK, well that basically kills this post :)

    Seriously, though, this is an interesting detail. Basically they’re incentivizing social media and penalizing non-users… well that’s a whole new post in and of itself.

    This comment was originally posted on Paul Balcerak on WordPress


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