Dear NYT: Your online content is still free

March 17, 2011

The New York Times announced that it will begin to charge people to access its digital content as it tries for a second time to diversify its revenue stream in the face of declining advertising sales and a drop-off in print readership.

Starting March 28, you’ll be able to read 20 articles a month without paying. On your 21st article, you’ll have the 3 digital news packages to choose from: $15 a month for Website and a mobile phone app access; $20 for Web access and an iPad app; and $35 for unlimited access, the paper wrote.

Is it worth it?

Felix Salmon thinks $15 for four weeks might be cheap compared to the cost of a print subscription, but $195 per year is enough to drive readers elsewhere.

Folks here in Canada are the first to suffer from NY Times withdrawal. Apparently, we’re fertile testing ground, allowing “the company time to work out any software issues before the system goes live in the United States.”

A screenshot from NYTimes.com taken March 17, 2011. REUTERS/NY TimesBut if we had a a digital subscriber option it certainly wasn’t apparent when I reached the 21st article, faced with a standard login page.

Registering and logging in produced different results; I could access as many articles as I wanted and there were no restrictions and no digital subscription option.

So, consider this your first public beta test response, NYTimes.

One comment

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Just tried it from BC. Got the message saying I had “4 of 20 articles” remaining or what-have-you. I let it get to 1/20, then closed the page, cleared my history (cookies, etc), went back to NYTimes.com and continued viewing articles. Eventually I got down to 4/20 again. Cleared history, kept surfing.

Whatever, NYTimes…whatever.

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