In only a few more days, March 28, the New York Times will be putting much of its content behind a “paywall,” meaning that you will have to pay to read the content of the NY Times (NYT). Certainly, the Times is one of the most important newspapers in the world, and it is the first paper of its size and influence to use the paywall model. We’ll see how that works out for them.
Under the current plan, the NYT will let web readers view 20 stories per month for free. If you click on the 21st story within a month, you will be taken to the paywall, and offered several different plans. My understanding is that there will be 3 different subscriptions available, depending on how you want to use the site. The lowest subscription price is $15 per month, and the most expensive being $35 per month. In my opinion, $15 per month is too high for a starting point, and $35 per month is way overpriced for any level of service.
Newspapers are in a tough place right now. Because of the Internet, a readership of actual “paper” newspapers has gone down considerably over the past few years. Because the readership is decreased, the amount that papers can charge advertisers is also lower. So, papers are getting hit on both ends. Fewer people buying papers. Because of that, ad revenues are also down. How is a newspaper to make money these days?
Personally, I am not opposed to charging people for content. I have some sites where I have considered charging people to read the site. I never did make the leap, though, and my sites all remain free to readers today. That said, though, I do not oppose the concept, and the day may well come when I decide to charge people to use some of my sites. However, I also believe that it is important that not every site should be a “pay per view” site.
For a site like the NYT, I would, if I were them, make the majority of the site free, but then I would charge for more highly specialized and in-depth parts of the site. Maybe the majority of the article would be free, but for those who want or need more in-depth coverage of the topic, they pay a small price to gain access.
One of the problems that most newspapers will have is going to come from the fact that there is a lot of competition on the Web. There are thousands of newspapers from all over the world who are on the web. The kicker is that these days, syndication of news articles means that many papers have the exact same articles as the other papers. For example, if the Associated Press writes an article, that article can appear in the New York Times, and also in 5,000 other newspapers, exactly the same in every instance. So, I have to pay if I want to read it on the NYT site, but I can read it from the Los Angeles Times for free? I am sorry, NYT, but that won’t work. When it comes to Editorials, Opinion, and strictly local news, much of the NYT is unique. When it comes to pure news, it simply is not.
So, the decision on how to make money from a site is an important one for big boys like the NYT and other corporations. I would have thought that a big site like the NYT could make some nice money from ad placements on their sites. Perhaps my assumption on that is incorrect, though, given that the NYT is on the verge of making a very big step.
Wherever you stand on the paywall issue, the next few weeks or months will be very interesting to watch. Anybody who publishes information on the Internet, like me, will be watching to see what happens to the plan of the NYT. It can affect the future of every Internet publisher, no doubt.
I’m watching this very closely. I want to see how the NYT attempts to make the switch to online in this digital age.
Hi Norman – Personally, I don’t think the NYT is trying to “make the switch” they have been online for more than a decade already. But, what they are trying to do now is to charge for their online content. It will sure be interesting to see how it develops!
Hey there, Bob. Yup, they’re trying to make money. For online guys like you, you definitely will need to watch and learn. I’m still convinced that NYT will someday switch when the time is right. I see newspapers as becoming obsolete. But I may be wrong.
Hi Norman – Yeah, I agree with you, newspapers will be obsolete in a short time! You know, I agree that people like me can watch and learn from what the NYT does… however, I also feel that the NYT can and should learn from web publishers like me and others, because in many ways, we are more innovative in the ways we can use a website to make money! So, there is learning to be done on both sides! 🙂
Bob, no more free content from NY Times? It used to be that you only have to just register. Sucks. Will others follow? Well, there’s still WashPost.
Hi Sugar – They will still offer 20 free articles per month…. anything over 20 and you have to pay!
Eventually I think most of them will be charging for content. Many newspapers and other print publications have been loosing add revenue to the Internet. Many advertizers that used to put a high percentage of their add expense into print media now share their add budgets with major ( and not so major ) sites where their adds will be seen on the Internet. The Newspaper business has been loosing a lot of money to the Internet in recent years. Additionally, many subscribers to the print edition of many publications have abandoned subscribing in favor of what they can get on the Internet.
Hi Bob – Thanks for stopping by! With the number of web visitors that a site like the NYT has, it seems like they would be able to make decent money through monetizing their site. I suppose they have not been successful on that, though, or they would not go to the paywall system.
Big Marks jerky
Im not sure what to believe at this point. Lexus Nexus charges but they offer a unique service to news organizations. I will use an analogy. The candle making industry is suffering due to this new thing called a light bulb. Some still need candles but every year light bulbs become more popular. If the management of NYT can’t see the shift from paper to digital and act accordingly then who knows what will happen. if the reader [who is very spoiled by the glut of free news online] feels NYT’s is trying to make up for lost revenues with this new “paywall” they may very well shun this service. Personally I think the NYT is losing readership due to the content as well as free online news. Free jerky for everyone!…lol
Hi Bib Marks jerky – Interesting analogy on the light bulb, and it seems to work very well. Unfortunately, the “light bulb” did not go off for the publishers of the NYT and other big publishers on the net, it seems! 😉