The New York Times has announced a new paid content model for their online content. The announcement is here:
A Letter to Our Readers About Digital Subscriptions – NYTimes.com.
The upshot is that occasional website visitors will not have to pay for anything but people who read many articles online with the Times will be asked to pay after using up a monthly free quota of content.
There has been a lot of hue and cry about this, just like there was when they tried to charge for their opinion content way back in 2005 or 06. Here is my take:
Any company like the NYT can be successful with a paid content model. The problem with this change is that they are removing content from their most loyal readers online. They are not offering anything new to their best prospects, they are removing what draws them in the first place It is also rather complicated which will suppress sales a bit.
Why not offer new value to your most voracious online readers and charge for that? The Wall Street Journal does just that with the top end of their online subscription options, providing new in depth content in focused areas. I might pay for an online subscription that provided access to more photos for each article (or the NYT’s photo archive, which is massive), podcast interviews with reporters on the ground where the news is happening, etc. Use what you have to create new offerings that you’ve never provided before but can scale in the online world.
Getting people to pay for something they already had for free is simply a tough row to hoe when there was no expectation set of that free access being temporary.