NY Times Does The Math: Pay Walls Don't Make Business Sense

from the about-time dept

As was rumored last month, the NY Times has decided to pull the plug on its TimesSelect paywall service, making all NY Times content from 1987 forward free online (they're also making all of the content from 1851 to 1922 free, but that's already in the public domain). This move comes two years after the paywall was first put in place. At the time, we were one of many who pointed out that this was going to make the NY Times a lot less valuable, and it seems that the business folks at the NY Times finally did the math and came to the same conclusion. They note that subscription growth was slowing (something that was obvious over a year ago) as advertising growth was ramping -- and that they hadn't counted on how many people would be drop-in visitors, coming from other sites. That seems like an odd statement, since it was quite obvious more than two years ago that search engines and other sites tended to drive a tremendous amount of traffic to news sites. Either way, like others before it, the NY Times should be congratulated on doing the right thing, while questioned for what took it so long (or even what made the company make the mistake in the first place).
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Filed Under: media, newspapers, paywall, timesselect
Companies: new york times

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  1. identicon
    Curious, 17 Sep 2007 @ 10:26pm


    What happened in NY between 1987 and 1922 that I shouldn't be reading about?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    zcat, 17 Sep 2007 @ 11:03pm

    Interesting comment about 'public domain'

    Just because it's in the public domain (copyright expired) doesn't prevent them from charging for access to it. If nobody else has those archives, there's not much anyone can do but pay..

    Of course once it's out of the archives that first subscriber is free to pass it on to everyone, but that's a whole different issue..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    goyal, 18 Sep 2007 @ 6:19am

    Re: Question?

    That part of the material is still under copyright, while the copyright has expired for the material before 1922.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    rshs, 18 Sep 2007 @ 9:47am

    It's the WSJ

    The NYT sees the successful model the Wall Street Journal has put forward for many years: no pay, no play. They've been hoping to get a piece of that. But the NYT isn't the WSJ. Although the WSJ may become more like the Times very soon, now that Rupert has his hands on it... Visit a blog by an Oscar-nominated screenwriter: http://scriptwriting.blogspot.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    thomas falconer, 9 Oct 2007 @ 7:37pm

    nytimes ditches pay to play model

    The New York Times never really gave the online subscription model a chance. asking people to pay for opinion columnists is like asking people to pay for blogs. ridiculous. and completely devalued the excellence and uniqueness of the superb reportage. they blew it big time.

    i stopped my weekly print subscription because i could get everything i needed free online, even in many cases in auto-send rss feeds and podcasts. i have no doubt that this move will depress further the print subscription. why, even the news about this is bad publicity for the times.

    they could have made the subcription price minimal, like $4.95/month or something like that, and built a whole new loyal online audience. oh well.

    thomas falconer

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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