After many round table pow-wows and indications that this was coming, the venerable New York Times finally announced its digital subscription plan; a way to make money from online content that’s been free – up till now. It’s a business model that many publishers will be following closely.
Under the plan, which began on March 28, visitors to NYTimes.com will be able to read 20 articles a month free. The most frequent users will pay $15 for a four-week subscription; print subscribers will have unlimited access.
Margaret Simons, of Crikey.com, says this is a significant milestone in the experiment of erecting paywalls around news content.
The move is significant for several reasons, perhaps most of all because of the way in which the paywalls have been structured. There are several different packages, all priced so as to encourage readers to make the shift to reading online. This is the shift created by the conviction that tablet readers will become mainstream, and the hope that advertisers will pay a premium on this new delivery mechanism. The world’s newspaper companies are now actively hastening the decline of print, because of the high cost of printing, then trucking dead trees around the distribution area.
The other interesting thing, notes Simons, is that there will be holes in the paywall. The NYT is trying to be part of the social media conversation and get revenue from its most loyal readers.