Friday, May 15, 2009

The New York Times Wants Your Money

Posted by on Fri, May 15, 2009 at 3:54 PM

The Observer says The New York Times has two plans to get you to pay for content.

One includes a "meter system," in which the reader can roam freely on the Web site until hitting a predetermined limit of word-count or pageviews, after which a meter will start running and the reader is charged for movement on the site thereafter.


Mr. Keller described the second proposal as a "membership" system. In this model, readers pledge money to the site and are invited into a "New York Times community." You write a check, you get a baseball cap or a T-shirt (if it's like Channel Thirteen, a tote bag!), an invite to a Times event, or perhaps, like The Economist, access to specialized content on the Web.

I don't know if either of those will work, or if either one of these models will actually see the light of day, but one thing is sure: the Times will start charging for content very soon.


Comments (9) RSS

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Lee 1
The Times already charges for content in the sense that some of it is available to paper subscribers only.

In any event, the museum model seems plausible to me. Which means, by extension, that newspapers will begin seeking non-profiy status soon.
Posted by Lee on May 15, 2009 at 4:01 PM · Report this
Gitai 2
I totally wouldn't pay. I'm a free rider on NPR and if the NYT wants to go with that model, I'll probably be a free rider too. If they want to start charging me for real, I'll stop reading. I'll switch to the Post, which is really a tutoring service that happens to have a newspaper, and hasn't even mentioned charging for content.
Posted by Gitai on May 15, 2009 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 3

Just going to buy the print copy for 40 cents and ignore them on the Net.
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 15, 2009 at 4:28 PM · Report this
I'd pay if I considered the price reasonable.

The web-specific content is worth a lot to me over and above whatever is in the usual paper and the reader comments are usually pretty intelligent. Another factor: the price of the paper in Canada's almost $3CAN and $12CAN for the Sunday Edition - not ever going to pay those prices with any regularity.

The only thing that would piss me off totally would be if they pulled the old subscription price differential for US and international subscribers.

The meter system I hate. I don't want that nag in the back of my head - "have I hit the max yet? Have I hit the max yet?"

The membership system seems iffy. I can see them putting in all sorts of 'except outside the US' if they're really thinking of merchandise and who the hell wants tickets or invites to events in NYC when you're living hundreds or thousands of miles away?

If they do go subscription, though, I'd want the local borough segments, too. I don't want the local sections of the printed paper stripped on the web. Free? I don't complain. Paying? I can bitch about it.
Posted by Your Name Here on May 15, 2009 at 5:24 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 5
With Tom Friedman still on the payroll???

The NYT can suck me.
Posted by Original Andrew on May 15, 2009 at 7:21 PM · Report this
What if the NYT, WSJ, LAT, etc. got together and created a collective? If individuals signed up for the collective, paying a sizable fee, they would get voting rights to say where the money should go, based on the quality of the NYT/WSJ/LAT in the past year. Half the money could go to the top vote-getter, 1/3 to the next vote getter, 1/10th to the next vote-getter, dividing the money into thinner and thinner slices. The idea is that people would get excited about voting, and talk about it with their friends and colleagues. So even though most of the world's population would be reading the websites for free, enough people would want the prestige of being "A Voter" that they would be willing to pay for that right. I think one person/one vote would make better buzz than allowing people to buy multiple shares, but presumably the collective could figure out what brought in more money over the long run.
Posted by EricaP on May 15, 2009 at 9:02 PM · Report this
I suspect that the meter system is not a serious contender. It's possible that they are floating it out there in an attempt to test different options. The meter system flies in the face of what educated marketing folks understand about fixed-rate bias, the reason many of us are happier to pay a high fixed-rate monthly rate to not go to the gym than we would be to pay a much lower per-use fee. Most folks would end up paying less if they went with the the per-use fee but they prefer the higher fixed-rate regardless. The same bias is driving cell-phone pricing plans.

Those free-riders out there on newspaper and other publishing content need to understand that the content will disappear if the publishing firms cannot figure out how to pay their bills now that they no longer have a monopoly on classified advertising in their markets. If you believe a strong free press is important to our democracy, then you should be concerned about this issue.
Posted by David from Chicago on May 16, 2009 at 4:46 AM · Report this
kresblamania 8
I have yet to hear a plausible explanation as to why newspapers can't charge for their online product exactly as they do for their paper product. If the leading papers did this the others would follow and the business might be saved. Have some balls why don't ya!
Posted by kresblamania on May 16, 2009 at 2:09 PM · Report this
@8: I see the so-called "membership system" mentioned in the posting as akin to having your paper delivered for a monthly fee, so that part of the usual model is accounted for. I remember several years ago the Chicago Tribune had current day articles for free but tried to charge a per-article fee for any online articles older than a day. Everything in the archive was available to subscribers. For some reason they didn't try to charge for the current day's content. I think there was a genuine belief that giving people access to your content online would drive them to order paper subscriptions instead of making them realize they could do without the physical paper and only read the parts of the paper that they actually care about. Your point is a good one, and an earlier Slog posting referred to a comment Murdoch said about making readers pay for his online content in several months' time. That, I believe, is a signal to the other media organizations and an attempt to get them to cooperate. He even gives everyone a timeline to allow for the payment systems to be put in place. The firms can't meet and discuss a joint strategy because of those darn anti-trust rules, but they can make announcements and hope their competitors take the hint and follow suit.
Posted by David from Chicago on May 17, 2009 at 6:08 AM · Report this

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