Predictions

by Bas Grasmayer


Filed Under:
math, paywalls, predictions, subscriptions

Companies:
ny times



Why The NY Times Paywall Business Model Is Doomed to Fail (Numbers)

from the dude-where's-my-math dept

Not considering technical details (every wall can be brought down), even by its own business model the New York Times' paywall is doomed to fail.

Last Friday's Financial Times had some interesting numbers.

  • Fact 1: According to analysts, the New York Times only needs to convert 1 to 10 per cent of the online visitors in order for the model to pay off.
  • Fact 2: NY Times chief executive Janet Robinson has stated that they only expect about 15 per cent of visitors to encounter the paywall, since visitors can read 20 articles per month for free.
  • Fact 3: Full website access and the mobile app are bundled for $15 per month. For the iPad app + web you pay $20 per month. $35 for all three.
  • Fact 4: One analyst argues that the NY Times could earn $66m per year if it converted just 1 per cent of the visitors. This would mean they go from paying nothing, to paying (at least) $195 a year.

There is no way these numbers add up. Consider fact 1 and fact 2. First of all only 1 per cent might actually not be all that easy, let alone 10 per cent. Secondly, the 1 per cent is misleading, as they'll actually have to convert 1 to 10 out of every 15 visitors to encounter the paywall. So they actually have to convert 6 to 66 (!) per cent.

Next, the pricing might be too high. $15 per month is a lot for consumers who are not used to pay for news online, especially since there's no additional value as Mike commented last week. I'm not saying nobody will pay, but dragging in the 6 to 66 per cent of the visitors will be challenging, to say the least.

I cannot imagine this paywall to be successful. They can probably kiss the $40m investment in the development goodbye.


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  1. identicon
    bob, 22 Mar 2011 @ 4:32am

    Too expensive?

    Let's start off by comparing the NY Times to the sleezeballs who are bastardizing the once wonderful USENET groups:

    Astraweb: $11/month
    Megaupload: 10 euro/month
    Giganews: $5-25/month ($5 is very limited.)
    Supernews: $10/month

    Sounds like the NYT is in the same basic range as these services. Of course you get a completely different collection of bits but the real difference is that the NYT actually pays the writers and editors unlike the mooching scum at the USENET services.

    Hey Mike, here are two article topics for you:

    * The USENET services "don't get it". They're trying to put up a paywall and it will fail because the only thing that's cool on the Net are free things that Google can sell ads against.

    * The USENET services are promising "unlimited" without actually delivering because nothing is unlimited. They're just like everyone selling bandwidth and not delivering it. It's so uncool how they meter and throttle the free pipes just to get us to pay for what we should get for free.

    So get to work.

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