Posted March 17, 2011 4:26 pm by with 8 comments

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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 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?

  • This should be titled “NY Times making desperate final grab for cash on way out of business” better know as the Blockbuster business model. Lol

    • Marc Zimmerman

      Lol, too funny!

  • Marc Zimmerman

    Nope! Our local paper in Medford Oregon started basically the same thing. I refuse to pay and haven’t missed any news or articles that I want to read… Waayyyy easier and cheaper to look up and read from other sources. As far as having an appreciation for so-n-so’s editorial content… that’s laughable. Truthfully I am intelligent enough to form my own opinions on items of concern to me and don’t need editorializing that most of the times seems to treat their readers as though they are the authority on all subjects. Bye-bye nyt…

  • Indrid Cold

    The New York Times can kiss my fat hairy nut-sack if they think I’m going to pay for their content after all these years. As I recall, they tried this nonsense some years ago and blocked non-paying subscribers from some of the columnists and features. Most people just stopped reading those items.

    My guess is that NYT will link each account to an email address, so I imagine I’ll just use a plethora of email accounts in order to access the articles I really enjoy. My advice to the Times however, is to learn to pay the bills with advertising revenue the way YouTube does. Otherwise, they are going to find themselves to be “out of print” quite soon.

  • John Pombrio

    Highlight the article’s name, right click on it, and pick out “Search Google for XXXXX”. If it is like the WSJ, these “paid” articles pop up in their entirety. So much for paywalls….

  • While I am not a regular Times reader, I do hope that it is successful. But as you mentioned there isn’t news there that I can’t find anywhere else for free. As you know, Newscorp is testing a similar model, one targeted at ipad users.

  • Do you think this will affect the way Google indexing them? Would they be cloaking on some level?

  • Deborah Hall

    First polls say 4 out of 5 will not pay. If I were an advertiser I would be thinking about yanking my ads and my dollars from the New York Times online site. I wonder if they did any price elasticity research. I would have paid $5 but not $15.