Mark your calendars, as March 28th is going to be remembered by historians as a critical day in the realm of digital publishing. A few weeks ago, The New York Times announced their digital subscriptions. On March 28th, 2011 the NY Times began limiting access to their content to non-subscribers – you can view 20 articles a month, after which you will be required to be a digital subscriber, and they put up a PayWall to prevent access.
Their pricing model is interesting:
NYTIMES.COM + SMARTPHONE APP
Full access to NYTimes.com and smartphone app. - $15 every four weeks
NYTIMES.COM + TABLET APP
Full access to NYTimes.com and our tablet app. - $20 every four weeks
ALL DIGITAL ACCESS
Full access to NYTimes.com and our tablet and smartphone apps. - $35 every four weeks
Every 4 weeks sounds like every month. It actually translates to 13 payments per year, presuming most people will associate that with only 12 payments per year. All Digital Access is therefore $455 per year.
Ironically, if I am a print subscriber, I receive All Digital Access with my subscription which per year is cheaper than if I sign up for the All Digital Access subscription.
There does seem to be a loophole in the PayWall though:
Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.
This is really an interesting approach, I would love to see the analytics of their visitors to determine what percentage of their traffic is coming from search, blogs and social media. The last sentence makes me think they have or are pushing paid deals with the search engines. However as search adapts, I wonder if those deals will carry over to Social Media web sites. As we know Google is still #1 when ranked by Alexa on Global traffic, however Facebook is #2. (Alexa’s Full Ranking)
So in summary, this campaign is pushing subscriptions, of which the most cost effective is the “old business model” print subscription. So in Essence, the letter from the Editor should read:
“You need to start paying for our content*. We recommend our Print subscription, because we need to pump cash into that thing before it fails. If you are the type that wants to save trees or go digital, we are charging you more for that, because you know, these pages and Content Management Systems are much harder to maintain than our print equipment, not to mention the delivery and logistics nightmare. We call it the Digital Premium, and just to make sure you start paying we are putting a PayWall up that will limit free access.
*Unless you reach our site by the most common ways to find articles on the Internet: Search, Blogs, Twitter or Facebook, in that case we don’t want your money and you can walk around the PayWall through the side entrance.
So in summary, subscribe now! The easiest way is to just pick a random New York City address to send the paper to and pay it forward, while getting full access to our Digital Offerings. Or you can be in the tech elite and pay the Digital Premium to impress all your friends, except for those who blog, use search engines, Twitter or Facebook.”