How Do The NY Times Paywall Results Compare To Its Last Paywall?

from the looking-similar dept

One of the oddities in the NY Times introducing its recent emperor's new paywall is the fact that the NYT already played this game and failed a few years ago. Back in 2006, over a year before the NYT finally realized this was a dumb idea, we had pointed out that it appeared its subscriber numbers had totally plateaued, foreshadowing the end of the paywall. I was reminded of that after some were saying that the NYT's recent announcement of 100,000 subscribers to its (still discounted) paywall shows that it's on a path to success.

With that in mind, it's fascinating to see Joshua Benton, over at the Nieman Lab, compare the results of the TimesSelect paywall with this new paywall, and suggest that the initial results aren't really that impressive in that they track the results from last time. After scouring reports to find out how many people signed up for TimesSelect, he put together this chart that shows the clear plateau:
So it looks like the last time around, they quickly jumped out to about 100,000 subscribers... and then things slowed down and they had to slog it out for new subscribers. This time around the paywall situation is definitely different. This paywall covers the entire NY Times, but is much more leaky. So you have one force pushing more people to subscribe... and another that diminishes the reasons to subscribe. But the key point remains. The success (or failure) is going to be determined by how many people the paper can convince to keep signing up... and I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the NY Times is going to find it hard to grow this part of their business in any significant way over time.
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Filed Under: paywall, results, timesselect
Companies: ny times

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  1. identicon
    YGor, 27 Apr 2011 @ 5:23am


    AJBarnes -- if NY Times is not your cup of team, DON'T read it. DON'T pay for it -- in fact why comment on this story in the first place. The assumption is that those people who enjoy reading the times -- which I don't but my wife does, what will they do? Will they sign up, look for workarounds or stop reading. We're thinking about getting a weekender subscription which comes with online access. Which is actually cheaper than getting the online access only -- so the numbers need to take into account how many people signed up for home delivery to get the online version of the paper. Oh, and it's not the news my wife reads most of the time it's opinion pieces and editorials, which some people find interesting -- but hey -- if all you do is troll on the internet, how would you what's in a real news paper? Btw, this is the reason I subscribe to ESPN the magazine, to get the insider -- I couldn't care less about the dead tree version, but I have to get it to get the insider. The business model is backwards -- force you to pay for dead trees to get access to the real content online.

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