The NYT paywall arrives

By Felix Salmon
March 17, 2011
has arrived: it's going up in Canada today, and then worldwide on March 28.

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The NYT paywall has arrived: it’s going up in Canada today, and then worldwide on March 28. The most comprehensive source for the gritty details is this FAQ, which does things like explain the difference between an item and a pageview. (A slideshow or a multi-page article is one “item,” no matter how many slides it contains.)

The NYT has decided not to make the paywall very cheap and porous in the first instance as people get used to it. $15 for four weeks might be cheap compared to the cost of a print subscription, but $195 per year is still enough money to give readers pause and to drive them elsewhere. And similarly, 20 articles per month is lower than I would have expected at launch.

Rather than take full advantage of their ability to change the numbers over time, the NYT seems to have decided they’re going to launch at the kind of levels they want to see over the long term. Which is a bit weird. Instead, the NYT has sent out an email to its “loyal readers” that they’ll get “a special offer to save on our new digital subscriptions” come March 28. This seems upside-down to me: it’s the loyal readers who are most likely to pay premium rates for digital subscriptions, while everybody else is going to need a special offer to chivvy them along.

This paywall is anything but simple, with dozens of different variables for consumers to try to understand. Start with the price: the website is free, so long as you read fewer than 20 items per month, and so are the apps, so long as you confine yourself to the “Top News” section. You can also read articles for free by going in through a side door. Following links from Twitter or Facebook or Reuters.com should never be a problem, unless and until you try to navigate away from the item that was linked to.

Beyond that, $15 per four-week period gives you access to the website and also its smartphone app, while $20 gives you access to the website also its iPad app. But if you want to read the NYT on both your smartphone and your iPad, you’ll need to buy both digital subscriptions separately, and pay an eye-popping $35 every four weeks. That’s $455 a year.

The message being sent here is weird: that access to the website is worth nothing. Mathematically, if A+B=$15, A+C=$20, and A+B+C=$35, then A=$0.

Meanwhile, at least where I live in New York, a print subscription which gets you the newspaper only on Sundays costs $19.60 every four weeks — and it comes with free access to the web and tablet versions of the newspaper. Which creates the slightly odd proposition that if you want to use the NYT’s iPad app, you’re marginally better off subscribing to the print newspaper on Sundays and throwing it away unread than you are just subscribing to the app on its own.

The pricing structure is also a strong disincentive to use the iPad app at all, of course. If you’re already paying $15 every four weeks to have full access to the website, why on earth would you pay extra just to be able to read the paper on its own dedicated app rather than in Safari? I, for one, prefer the experience of reading nytimes.com on the web on my iPad, rather than reading an iPad app which has no search, no links, no archives, no social recommendations, etc etc. If the NYT wanted to kill any incentive to read and develop its iPad app, it’s going about it the right way.

What does all this mean for the New York Times Company? I can’t see how it’s good. The paywall is certainly being set high enough that a lot of regular readers will not subscribe. These are readers who would normally link to the NYT from their blogs, who would tweet NYT articles, who would post those articles on Facebook, and so on. As a result, not only will traffic from these readers decline, but so will all their referral traffic, too. The NYT makes more than $300 million a year in digital ad revenue, so even a modest decline in pageviews, relative to what the site could have generated sans paywall, can mean many millions of dollars foregone. On top of that, the paywall itself cost somewhere over $40 million to develop.

Against all that, how much revenue will the paywall bring in? A very large number of the paper’s most loyal readers are already print subscribers, and get access to the website at no extra cost. So the new revenues from the paywall will only come from people who read the website a lot but who don’t subscribe in print.

How many of those people are there? Emily Bell reckons that the number of people who’ll even hit the paywall in the first place is only about 5% of the NYT’s 33 million or so unique visitors. That’s 1.6 million people — compare the 1.3 million people who already subscribe to the paper on Sundays. The former is not a perfect superset of the latter, of course, but there’s a big overlap; let’s say that realistically the NYT is going after a universe of no more than 800,000 people that it’s going to ask to subscribe. And let’s be generous and say that 15% of them do so, paying an average of $200 per year apiece. That’s extra revenues of $24 million per year.

$24 million is a minuscule amount for the New York Times company as a whole; it’s dwarfed not only by total revenues but even by those total digital advertising revenues of more than $300 million a year. This is what counts as a major strategic move within the NYT?

As Ken Doctor notes, the Times Select fiasco, which was unceremoniously killed in 2007 to no one’s regret, was bringing in a good $10 million per year. This new paywall is much more elaborate and expensive, and it’s being introduced into a website which is currently something of a cash cow as regards ad revenues.

So by my back-of-the-envelope math, the paywall won’t even cover its own development costs for a good two years, and beyond that will never generate enough money to really make a difference to NYTCo revenues. Maybe that might change if the NYT breaks its promise to offer full website access for free to all print subscribers. But that decision would be fraught in all manner of other ways.

For the time being, though, I just can’t see how this move makes any kind of financial sense for the NYT. The upside is limited; the downside is that it ceases to be the paper of record for the world. Who would take that bet?

Update: Turning upside-down the conventional wisdom that consumers will only pay for financial information and porn, the NYT has decided that Dealbook will remain completely free, outside the paywall, at least for the time being. Which I guess explains why the Business and Dealbook sections are so clearly separated from each other online.

38 comments

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Will we ba able to beat it by deleting cookies or going to “private mode” in the browser (like we can on economist.com)?

Posted by Developer | Report as abusive

if my husband and i both need to purchase digital subscriptions, the per-family costs are almost restrictively high…

Posted by lfk | Report as abusive

“The message being sent here is weird: that access to the website is worth nothing. Mathematically, if A+B=$15, A+C=$20, and A+B+C=$35, then A=$0.”

This is poor logic. All this really tells you is that C is work $5 more than B. A could be any value up to $15. Really what I’m getting at is that the only suggestion that the website access being worth nothing is some bad math.

Posted by puddles | Report as abusive

Now I see why it took 14 months to turn on the paywall after they announced it – it’s not easy to come up with a convoluted system that will bring about a slow death, prompting cries of “who could have foreseen it?”

It’s absurd that they charge less for a paper+internet subscription than for just the digital version, seeing how they have no printing or distribution expenses for the latter. I can only guess they do that to inflate their circulation numbers, so they can continue to charge advertisers higher rates. They are effectively counting on the stupidity of advertisers, which I guess isn’t much of a stretch, since they already believe expensive ads in the TImes are worth the cost.

If the ipad (and other tablet) versions had sticky ads (i.e., they remained with the content, which was stored as a file on the device until deleted), the TImes could charge more for those ads than on a website. Those ads should be worth as much as print ads, but by bundling all electronic versions together, they place the tablet ads in the same market as general web ads, of which there is a virtually infinite supply (unless your target market is NYT readers).

I’m guessing the NYT management got advice on this from a consulting firm.

Posted by KenG_CA | Report as abusive

$15 for four weeks? $15 a year would make more sense.
Times has to go back and look at journalism history. Ben Day brought the price of a newspaper down over 80% with the New York Sun (from 5 cents to a penny), drove circulation through the roof, thrilled advertisers and became rich rich rich.
And he had to worry about distribution costs.

Posted by RZ0 | Report as abusive

I am a very heavy NYT online user, and NOT a print subscriber. I will not pay $15 a month. just one data point.

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

I don’t understand the idea of allowing third party sites to link to their articles for free. So could I set up a website, let’s say http://www.nytimesnav.com (obviously I’m glossing over trademark infringement) whose sole purpose is to link to nytimes.com articles and nullify the paywall?

Posted by spectre855 | Report as abusive

Unlike @KidDynamite I will pay for the content. However, what happens when this becomes standard in the industry. I am already paying for the FT, The Economist, and soon the NYT. If others put up a paywall consumers will need to make choices on whether they are going to read Felix Salmon or Ezra Klein or Paul Krugman etc. because it will be too expensive to pay subscription fees for every news outlet.

@Chris_Gaun

Posted by Chris_Gaun | Report as abusive

puddles, you may be OK at logic, but you flunk algebra.

A + B = 15 -> B = 15 – A
A + C = 20 -> C = 20 – A

A + B + C -> A + (15 – A) + (20 – A) = -A + 35 = 35

-> A = 0 QED

I agree that the paywall seems fairly absurd, but as a 7-day print subscriber, I guess I don’t much care.

KenG_CA – an implied negative price for the print subscription is not a priori absurd. The print edition is really a device for delivering your eyeballs to print advertisers, and that can easily be worth more to the Times than it costs them to print and distribute the paper.

Posted by McKenzieG1 | Report as abusive

I am a heavy NYT web user and a 7 day print subscriber — out of NYC which means I pay hundreds of dollars a year for the privilege — and I am thrilled that the free-riders whom I have been subsidizing for years will finally need to pony up or hit the road. Adios kidynamite.

Posted by Shaft64 | Report as abusive

Dear New York Times:

I mourn your passing, Grey Lady. If your business directors had bothered to ask those of us who scour the paper assiduously each day their opinion of this plan, you would have discovered that elegant theory is not always commonsense practice… and your fortunes on the internet would not have declined so rapidly.

It was a sad, sad day indeed when you signed off on THIS plan.

Posted by RoughAcres | Report as abusive

McKenzie, I agree with that point, but I expect advertisers to eventually realize their print ads are being ignored, and will stop buying them.

I would have no problem getting a print subscription to the NYT, except that I would never read the paper version, and don’t want to waste the paper. I am then penalized if I want their content, by having to pay for the cheaper-to-produce electronic version.

The Times has no monopoly on content, even if they have a loyal base. Companies without monopolies that abuse their customers always go out of business.

Posted by KenG_CA | Report as abusive

So far all the comments focus on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the New York Times. I have been exploring alternatives since I first heard this was coming. Al-Jazeera English on the web is okay, but the format is too much “greatest hits” of the day. I’m voting for Reuters. They’ve already begun to showcase some of their editorial staff, particularly (and curiously almost limited to) the Khrista lady. Looks like the beginning of an editorial page, and they’ve got Op-Ed content too. I’ll be looking to see if they re-structure their pages from news service to news paper.

Posted by bigturkey | Report as abusive

KenG, the paper version is good for other things besides reading. We use quite a few pages for protecting our dining room floor from our daughter’s art projects. Seriously, though, you could give it away to someone who would read it, or just tell your carrier to keep it for himself or use as a spare.

It don’t know if I would agree that trying to get some non-paying customers to fork over a few $$$ constitutes “abusing” them.

And does the Times really need or want “customers” like KidDynamite? A “very heavy NYT online user” who values what he gets so little that he categorically refuses to pay $15 / month for it? Most Americans pay far more than that for dozens of TV channels they don’t watch.

Posted by McKenzieG1 | Report as abusive

If the choice is between my Netflix or NYT, I have to say Netflix. That is not to say that I don’t value the NYT, but I can switch my reading away from NYT to other sources – including feeds from Reuters – while there is no equivalent for moving away from Netflix that is free.

Posted by GRRR | Report as abusive

I miss the London UK Times since it went behind the wall (mainly due to two specific columnists and the crossword) but do not and will not pay to read it.

I could write a lot more but it’s all been hashed over by others already, so to stay with the practical, just one phrase; I’ll miss the NYT a lot less.

Posted by ottorock | Report as abusive

Oh well. Does the 20 “articles” a month include both news and opinion? Probably, yes.

Posted by FrankBlank | Report as abusive

I love that the NYT has put up a paywall. They have just lowered the barrier to entry for other companies who are either free or have a staight forward low cost paywall.

Posted by david3 | Report as abusive

…Also I would be more willing to pay, say $20 a year to read just Krugman, then $250, $400, whatever to have the whole NYT for a year. In fact I could imagine paying $250, $400, whatever in total to have subscriptions to individual columnists from different companies, i.e. $15 for Klein from the Post, $20 for Krugman, $25 for Salmon…

If I find a free or cheaper blogger that is as good as someone I am paying for, then I make a switch.

Posted by david3 | Report as abusive

How much of the $19.60 goes to the Times, and how much to Apple? How much of the $20 goes to the Times, and how much to Apple?

Posted by dWj | Report as abusive

Thanks but no thanks. This is way over budget for retired or middle-middle class. Maybe a yuppie or two will buy into it. $40 dsl internet connection + another $15? Look at the % increase. No way!

Posted by wrylyfox | Report as abusive

The New York Times will get what it deserves when honest real-time news sources leave them in the dust of history, along with their completely skewed and worthless coverage of world events. They outrageously abused their position of as the Journal of Record with the likes of Judith Miller and Mara Liasson to candy-coat everything from the the illegitimate 2000 elections to the obvious World Trade Center demo job and the phony WMD justifications for permanent global Marshall Law. Not one Japanese Skyscraper collapses after a 9.0 quake but 3 Trade Center buildings collapse neatly into their foundations? Bollocks!

Posted by Greenfelder | Report as abusive

I agree with the author; the NYT pay plan is a delusional plan cooked by a committee of mutual back-scratchers.

I think nearly every regular NYT reader expected to eventually be asked for subscription ante. But the proposal is twice too high and offers zero value-added to subscribers. No special features, all the same blitz of ads that have increasingly consumed the pages like a cancer for years.

Nope, I’ll not be participating. Judging by the comments on the announcement story at NYT I’ll be in very good company.

Posted by Future_Is_Now | Report as abusive

McKenzieG1 and Felix are utterly wrong (maybe the latter wrote tongue in cheek), and puddles is right. You cannot assume any bundle of goods is the sum of some absolute fixed “value” of individual components – as if that would have some context independent meaning! – and indeed it rarely is so, for sound economic reasons. Rather than walk you through why, I offer a couple of possibilities to get you thinking…

a) Suppose tomorrow NYT offered web only “A” for $2/month. Since you’ve “proved” that A has value 0, this is either a mathematically provable contradiction (stand by for world to explode!) or so irrational that no one (literally, no human, since you’ve proved it it silly) would take it up. And yet… I have no ipad nor smartphone … so tell me why it is incomprehensible I would accept this? To me this seems better that A+B or A+C (I can’t take advantage of B or C!). Remember, you claim *mathematical* proof is on your side, so I don’t give me a wish washy argument here.

b) Let’s suppose I nevertheless purchase Felix’s “A + B” and also “A + C”. What have I got? NOT “2A + B + C” because “A” is the right for me (myself) to read the web edition. Getting this twice still means I have … the right to read the web edition. “A”, not “2A”. Now if the world changes and I had the power to sell my “second” subscription to someone else (which the NYT won’t prevent, because it had monopoly power over it’s own content, and of course it is precisely this power which make it useful to offer bundles in the first place) all sorts of things change. But the NYT is probably dealing with the world as of 2011.

Both of you do understand algebra, but in this case your grasp of _mathematics_ (among other things) has let you down.

Posted by bxg12 | Report as abusive

so does the NYTimes.com want customers like me – who don’t want to pay for their content? That’s an interesting question. I’m not at all insulted to hear some say that they don’t, and yet, the majority of the media business models on the internet would disagree, I think. Felix tried to illustrate this in his post, about NYT ad revs.

So if they charge me, and I don’t pay, they lose me, and all of the readers that used to click through to them from my blog posts about their articles, and all the ad revenue that comes from it.

Now, I happen to think that online advertising is a ridiculous business model – yet it’s a profitable one, undeniably.

So yes, I think that NYT does want all the free loading page viewing viewers that they can get… well, maybe the paywall says otherwise – but the internet ad model wants those pageviews!

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

I’m with bxg12 on the math. What’s confusing Felix is that the $35 price does seem a bit high given that website+iPad is only $20. Who would pay $15 more just to get smartphone access too? But in truth it’s just some clever price discrimination…presumably the $35 subscribers are the price insensitive consumers to whom it’s worth the avoidance of hassle to make NYT available on every device they own. It’s the “business class” of paywall options.

As to the paywall itself, count me among the people for whom $195/year feels like a steal. I read 357 articles last month, according to the meter linked here a week or so ago. Although many were for work, reading the NYT is one of the greatest pleasures of my day-to-day life. Were I of an older generation I’d have long been a print subscriber. As it stands I’ve been enjoying an incredible resource given away by a private company for free.

It’s a bit like if I had to pay for Gmail all of sudden…sure I’d bitch and moan a bit, but I’d happily do so because it’s by far the best option. My willingness to pay for quality is pretty high. It was great having excess consumer surplus for a while, but how on earth can anyone argue that quality journalism is not worth paying for and yet so many other things are?

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that criticism of the paywall would come from a journalist, of all people. Are other creative industries worth paying for? Do you buy concert tickets? Movie tickets? Netflix? iTunes Music? Artwork for goodness sakes?

What about other news providers? Is my $600/month Reuters tradestation seat worthwhile? What about Bloomberg? Should they pay their reporters nothing?

Felix Salmon, why are you willing to pay more for a bottle of wine than you are for a few weeks of the New York Times?

Posted by loudnotes | Report as abusive

Forgot to mention, Lincoln is sponsoring the rest of 2011 free (targeted to certain users). I saw an ad and registered when I read the NYT article about the new paywall. Basically, they just gave away $130 (8 months) I was jumping up and down to pay them. And you know what? My already hard-won loyalty just got extended. I’m in my 20s and could see myself paying whatever the NYT asks for the rest of my life, as long as it remains the paper of record it is today.

Between the G7 yen intervention and Lincoln’s gift it feels like free money day.

Posted by loudnotes | Report as abusive

What the New York Times needs to understand is that our reading patterns have changed. We no longer rely on one source; we read from many newspapers, news websites and blogs. We simply can’t pay for all of them, so we will end up choosing among those that are free.

There is certainly no shortage of great content out there. And if some of it chooses to charge, well…I’ll just have a little time to exercise again, which is all for the best.

Posted by Soundbite | Report as abusive

The NYT provides tremendous value, and I will gladly pay the paywall price. Do any of you “readers” who so resentf being asked to pay for your news realize how spoiled and selfish you sound? The NYT pays for its reporters and editors and foreign news bureaus and offices and systems and on and on… And you think they should just give you all of this for free because of your good looks? Really? How about you try this “give it to me for free” ploy at, say, Whole Foods “Hi cashier, if you insist on charging me for this granola and wheat germ you will lose me as a customer.” To which Whole Foods (and the NYT) ought to say “Don’t let the door hit ya…”

And for those of you who argue that “there’s plenty of free news out there” I have two comments. One, if you don’t understand the difference in quality between the NYT, and say HuffPo or Yahoo News, then you are not a very discerning reader. Two, you may notice that many of the good articles on HuffPo (and other aggregators) come from the NYT. The NYT is probably the best newspaper in the country. Put up, or shut up…

I have one point to make in response to the author’s confusion about the extra $5 for the iPad. I have an iPad – but not the 3G version. I download the NYT with the app every morning, and then when I stop for coffee or a beer on the way home from work, I read the newspaper without needing to find a wireless network. It’s either pay $30 extra a month for 3G, or $5 extra for the iPad NYT app. That’s the value for me, not sure how many folks there are like me without 3G on their iPad. I agree that the iPad NYT app should support all the comments and other cool media that you find on nytimes.com. JR

Posted by johnranta | Report as abusive

What makes this even more confusing is there is no program in place for e-readers like the Amazon Kindle (of which I own one). Apparently it’s neither digital nor is it a delivered newspaper.

Posted by AllanSchoenberg | Report as abusive

Personally, I find the NYT and its struggling subsidiary the Boston Globe two of the worst sources of relevant news in the world, so they will get none of my readership. News sources that make up news and are heavily slanted are not worth reading, much less paying to read. The only writer I will miss is Thomas Friedman. Oh, well. There are plenty of other higher quality news sources that will gain the majority of whatever eyeball time the NYT had.

Posted by netvet | Report as abusive

McKenzie, the abuse is the confusing rules and the pricing scheme which penalizes customers who use multiple devices. I will probably sign up for daily (M-F) delivery of the paper, so I can get unlimited access to all digital content, as this will cost $14.80 for 4 weeks (in So. CA). This is cheaper than any only-digital plan, and exists only to charge higher rates to advertisers, even though the incremental revenue they get form ads for my subscription will be more than offset by the cost of printing and delivering my paper 5 days a week.

I don’t have a problem paying for their news service, but their system is not designed to maximize my satisfaction, but rather to maximize their revenue (although it won’t). No non-monopoly company ever succeeds with this strategy, as it always results in losing customers.

Posted by KenG_CA | Report as abusive

GOODBYE, FAREWELL AND AMEN TO THE NYT

ANd just yesterday morning I was thinking how the NYT’s coverage of the events in Japan was incredibly embarrassingly bad for the premier US news media when compared to the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-e ast-12307698

And now they want me to pay $195 a year (4 weeks x 13 4 week periods x $15)…….

I happily paid the $49/50 fee back in ’05 and ’06. That was about $4 a month. And as home delivery here of even just the Sunday Times is more like $250 a year, I will gladly pay that $50 a year.

But now….. a fee that is 400% more? And when over the past 3 years, I have had necessities (electric, heat, water, car insurance, health insurance premiums & deductibles, groceries) go up nearly 34% in their cost and now take another 13% of the monthly household budget while income has stayed flat (and fixed as we are retired but Medicare prescription plans, Medigap plans and deductibles keep climbing even if the Part B premium has stayed the same for 3 years.) The Medicare prescription premium actually increased by 347% two years ago.

To the snarky posters who have derided those who say they can not afford $195 and equate it to going to McD’s and claim those who say they can not pay for the NYT are already paying for such things as cable TV, lattes, Netflix and Iphones, here is the reality.

We do NOT go to McD’s or even go out to dinner. (Thank goodness I find Grand Marnier soufflés easy to make.)

We do NOT have cable TV – just 8mg high speed broadband.

We do NOT have Iphones, Smartphones, Ipads, Kindles or other tech toys – just 2 little Go Phones kept in the cars at annual cost of $25 -73 (thanks to the rewards on one of my credit cards.).

We do have Netflix at $21.19 a month – but no cable TV, no Roku or other high tech toy to run Netflix on the TV and the TV is an older model with the large block of components on the backside and a built in DVD player and VHS – definitely not a flat screen of any kind.

And what on earth is a latte? One of those over-priced sugar laden drinks with traces of coffee?

The $200 the NYT wants represents the following to me as there is nothing – and I do mean NOTHING, not $1000, not $500 – left out of the annual budget after allowing for clothing (less than $1000 as thank god Brooks Bro lasts forever), car repairs, vet bills, uncovered medical expenses, eyeglasses, appliance repair/replacement, emergency savings etc:

(1) My gasoline budget for 5.66 weeks

(2) The water bill for 4 months

(3) The Medicare D premiums for 4 months

(5) The grocery budget for 1 month (yep, being a hellaciously good cook, having a huge walk-in pantry and a big freezer to buy raspberries from the farm in season saves a LOT of money)

(6) The special food for my kitty with renal insufficiency for 4 months

(7) The costs of one 500 mile trip to the pain specialist – a trip which is made 3-4 times a year

(8) 3 tires for the cars

(9) Replacing the water pump on the clothes processor combo machine

(10) 2 3/4 months of food for my Service Dog

(11) 43% of the cost of new eyeglasses

(12) Gas (heat and hot water) for 2 months

Now as between such things as these and the NYT, guess which get the money. (Hint: Answer does NOT start with “New”….)

Make it $50 a year and I’m in — even $72 ($6 a month)— but not at $195.

Some posters on the NYT article thread rudely replied to those who protested the cost as out of reach with a ‘so what? The NYT advertisers don’t want you anyhow if you can’t shop at Tiffany’s” Ah…..but I do make room in the budget for Brooks Brothers on the grounds of cost-effectiveness as the clothes last forever and (were) timeless. Our income is not limited because of a lack of education: it is limited because of age and illness (my medical expenses take 20%+ of household income.) We am far far better educated as we both hold doctorates and attended very prestigious schools – and smart enough to provide policy analysis to NYT business reporters.

The NYT wants $195 minimum. Next it will be the Washington Post, then the LA Times, then the Chicago Trib (largest regional around here although now a 3rd rate rehash of LAT stories) ….. I have already dropped the Financial Times when they broke $100. I stopped occasionally reading “The Times” (London) when they went to ‘no money, no looky’. I skip all links to WSJ articles – $99 is not too awful but still too much for a narrow interest paper with an extreme bias (as in anyone lacking a 6 figure income can drop dead.) So add it all up.

NYT $195, Financial Times $250, WSJ $99 and say WaPo $150, LAT $150, and Chic Trib at $99……..and oh yes, the seriously marginal local paper that doesn’t run national news until 3-5 days after everyone else but does have local matters of interest which actually wants $120 for online access……$1063 a year to read the news from a variety of 7 sources and get different perspectives. That is $88.58 a month. That is way way too much money when the media (already prepared for print) is then also delivered online at a cost of 1/100ths of a penny per reader. That is nearly DOUBLE the cost of the largest TV package available here with hundreds of channels – not 7.

That would be about 2 ½% of the median household’s after-tax income – for only 7 newspapers. That would be 7 ½% of the average Social Security Retirement (and for over 50% of the retirees, that is all they have.) That would be 9 ½% of the average Social Security Disability – around $950 a month.

Those in the bottom 60-75% would be squeezed out of the information marketplace. The NYT – which claims to be a progressive and liberal – does not want the very people it writes about: the unemployed, the underemployed, the elderly, the disabled, and the median household in the US to be able to access it. And the NYT has the hypocrisy to throw fits about the price of e-books for libraries and the lack of broadband in rural areas and how the true middle class (those $35k – 65K incomes) are being shut out of national life because of costs…….sheesh….

The voices of the underemployed, the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly, and the bottom 60% will no longer appear in the NYT comments sections. That means David Leonhardt and several other of the business reporters as well as Krugman and Herbert will have to find new subjects. The upper income subscribers won’t want to hear about the unemployed or poverty levels or the troubles of over-50s finding jobs or the uninsured – nothing to do with them, anyone they know or anyone who comments in the NYT. Such people will not be those who can afford the NYT and the affluent readers won’t want to hear about it while they peruse the ads for their vacation in Fiji or their $100,000 sports car.

Looks like it is the BBC and PBS news (online) for me. I will have to rely on the blog Calculated Risk for economic info.

Glad to know the NYT and Murdoch have reached an agreement on how to divide up the world. The affluent get in-depth news and information tailored to their political leanings. The rest of the country get Fox and its screaming lunatics.

Posted by onthelake | Report as abusive

Even those of us who don’t pay subscriptions still pay for the paper’s production through advertising. I for one am not foolish enough to pay for something twice.

This is doomed to failure as a money making exercise since news isn’t really worth anything and opinion is something everyone has and wants to share. Unread news and unshared opinion is worth even less. This business model is akin to paying full price for each pay-tv channel separately.

There are just too many other sources of the same information or alternative ways to spend ones time and money.

Posted by MikeZ | Report as abusive

I’ll sign up right after they hire Ann Coulter to oversee and reorganize the Op Ed editorials department.

Posted by davesmall | Report as abusive

Here in Toronto I can give testimony as an early guinea pig for the paywall. Considering all of the convoluted pricing options, I chose to start a new subscription to the Sunday paper edition that would in turn give me full access to the digital edition. Delivery of the paper edition in Canada is handled by a Canadian newspaper (the Globe and Mail), and I had no problem signing up through them. They in turn handed my call off to the NY Times call center for the last step: granting me access to the digital edition. This is where chaos set in. Nobody at the NYT could find evidence of my new subscription. A supervisor was called in. He was flummoxed, and promised to investigate and call me back. A few hours later he did indeed call back, but was still confounded. Finally, he pinpointed the problem: the subscription is only active after the first physical delivery of a newspaper, a fact that seemed unknown to everybody I had talked to. The story is not over; I’ll see in a couple of days whether I can get digital access.

Judging by my experience, this new paywall does not seem to have been thoroughly thought out before launch. I would not be shocked to see the NY Times once again beat a retreat if this turns out to be the fiasco is looks like.

Posted by GregorySokoloff | Report as abusive

To answers peoples questions- Yes disabling cookies and not signing in allows you to avoid the 20 article limit. I have tried it in Canada by going into Private Browsing mode (or Incognito mode on Chrome) and there are no restrictions on use. They aren’t using IP addresses to identify people. And you can create a mock NyTimes site with links to articles that would bypass the paywall as well, I tried this with a older tumblr account that I linked via proxy. You can also still use news fetchers and other bots to retrieve articles.
The whole paywall seems to suck, and it’s shocking that they spent $30 million on it. This type of thing shouldn’t cost more than a few thousand dollars to implement- its really not difficult coding to do, and there are more holes into it than swiss cheese.

Also I’m bitter that they haven’t announced anything for Kindle subscribers yet. I pay $20 a month for access and I won’t pay dime more. I’m not sure if Amazon has a feature that allows publishers to give codes or accreditation to their subscribers for their own websites (though I remember hearing something about it a while ago), and it would be trivially easy for Amazon to implement if they had to.

Posted by doctorrobert | Report as abusive

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