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. icon
    Danny (profile), 27 Apr 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Really?

    Interesting. I'd considered becoming an ESPN Insider years ago when it was cheap - and didn't include a dead tree magazine. I see it is no longer cheap and I gotta kill trees now.

    But it is their right to bundle. Just like I can't buy one NHL Playoff game on Versus, I have to get the whole thing.

    Perhaps they've done the math and it makes sense for them. But they don't get me.

    Re: The NYTimes. I dropped their app on my iPad and I am finding I don't miss it so much. Some of my RSS bundler apps give me unlimited NYTimes articles (other bundler apps stop me at 20 -- not sure what the difference is under the hood). But I am finding I am relying more on the Washington Post and other media sources now through those bundler apps.

    Life will go on and the market will find some sort of equilibrium.

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