The NYTimes.com is seeing 64% more traffic to their site ever since they stopped charging to access the site this past September. The site was converted to free access when they took away what they called TimesSelect. According to comScore, that move gave them an extra 7.5 million readers worldwide. This was as measured from the end of August through the end of October (November numbers are not out yet). Monthly pageviews went up 52 percent also – to 181 million.
TimesSelect was $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month and free to print subscribers, teachers, and students. The Times is making its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, and public domain years from 1851 to 1922. Other years will be mixed with some content free and some paid.
The main reason behind they changed models is that search engines were bringing a new demographic to the site. In the past more people went directly to the site, and they were often regular readers who are loyal to the paper. People coming to the site via search engines were turned off by having to subscribe. Most likely they are looking at a specific article and want to pick and choose rather than read the entire paper. Sort of like how we want to buy our songs one at a time rather than buying the whole CD.
Right now subscribers generate about $10 million a year in revenue. After running the numbers the Times saw more growth potential in online advertising revenue than in collection for subscriptions.
The Times’s site gets about 13 million unique visitors each month, more than other newspapers. For example, the Wall Street Journal has about 3.6 million uniques a month, and they are considering a similar model.
TechCrunch, a completely online news site, got 8 million monthly pageviews worldwide in October, more than News.com. It’s a bit difficult to compare sites when some give unique visitors, others subscribers, and still others report pageviews.