The New York Times recently cut their digital reader freebies in half. Previously, a person could read up to 20 online articles a month without having to subscribe. Now, once they hit 10 articles, they’ll have to subscribe in some way in order to access more.
Obviously, their hope is that this will increase their number of digital subscribers, because they really need them.
According to CNET, the Times has 454,000 digital subscribers, but more than half that number came on board just after the paywall went live. That means they’ve seen a slow down in subscriptions when numbers should be increasing with time.
The Times’ new plan is a good one. We know that freemium works, the trick is finding the breaking point for potential subscribers. Too little and they’ll go away annoyed. Too much and there’s no need to subscribe. The New York Times is hoping that 10 will be their magic number.
Even if the Times can raise their subscriber base, that’s not enough to stay in business. They have to get advertisers.
Pew Research says that newspapers are losing $7 in print for every $1 they gain in online advertising. Add in the fact that almost no one is monetizing mobile properly and it’s a dismal scenario.
Print may not be dead, but it’s on life support. It may be fine for those who read for entertainment, but when it comes to news, digital allows us to be up-to-date, 24/7, every day of the year. It really is the best medium for that business, we simply have to train the readers that it’s the “news” portion not the “paper” portion of the newspaper that counts.