The famous Monday Night Football announcer Don Meredith (R.I.P) used to sing when the game was all but over “Turn out the lights, the party’s over!”. Well, if he were here today he could sing the same tune regarding the days of a completely free New York Times online edition.
As of March 28th the paywall will be built and the grand experiment for “All The News That Fit to Digitize” will be underway. Here’s how the Times reported their own news.
Beginning March 28, visitors toNYTimes.com will be able to read 20 articles a month without paying, a limit that company executives said was intended to draw in subscription revenue from the most loyal readers while not driving away the casual visitors who make up a vast majority of the site’s traffic.
Once readers click on their 21st article, they will have the option of buying one of three digital news packages — $15 every four weeks for access to the Web site and a mobile phone app, $20 for Web access and an iPad app or $35 for an all-access plan.
I don’t see myself paying for it. There will be a five article daily limit instituted for those accessing the Times content through Google. If you really like the Times that limit could be hit very quickly. Those visits do not count against the 20 article limit. How sporting.
The Times knows that this is a dicey venture. Arthur Sulzberger, Chairman of the New York Times Company said in his State of the Times address to the company on Thursday
“A few years ago it was almost an article of faith that people would not pay for the content they accessed via the Web”
“This move is an investment in our future,” he said. “It will allow us to develop new sources of revenue to support the continuation of our journalistic mission and digital innovation, while maintaining our large and growing audience to support our robust advertising business. And this system is our latest, and best, demonstration of where we believe the future of valued content — be it news, music, games or more — is going.”
“The challenge now is to put a price on our work without walling ourselves off from the global network, to make sure we continue to engage with the widest possible audience,” he said.
This experiment will be closely watched because unlike niche publications like the Wall Street Journal which is almost necessary for many to do business, the New York Times covers all news and it’s news that can be found elsewhere….for free.
As I said earlier, I doubt I would pay for it. I like the Times but I’ll go to the other coast and read the LA Times or something else to get my information. What these publishers are banking on is that their readers so greatly appreciate The Times editorial point of view or their particular type of coverage of events like Japan’s natural disasters tat they will pay even when the facts can be found virtually anywhere else for no cost.
Granted, $15 a month isn’t a lot of money and is likely at the high end of what a monthly paywall threshold is. I have no scientific data or research for that but when you can say that something is essentially 50 cents a day it doesn’t seem like much.
On the other hand, people may just get up from the table and walk away from this because while the New York Times is indeed the New York Times, in the Internet age there’s no news like free news.
So are you gonna pay for your NY Times online?