Home > Uncategorized > NY Times Charging For Online Content — A Conundrum?

NY Times Charging For Online Content — A Conundrum?


Yesterday I read about the New York Times, a ridiculously popular online and print news source, decided to charge its website visitors starting in 2011. The model that they will be using will be a monthly limit for those who visit their articles and once the customer has hit the maximum of visits, they will be asked to pay a flat fee to continue their access to the NY Times online content.
Now — my very first reaction is that this a very stupid move by the NY Times. I thought to myself, “they are never going to be able to get anyone to pay for online content! Who wants to do that?!”. Then as I thought about it a bit more, I realized that I wouldn’t pay for online content unless I really, really wanted it. I may not really want to read the NY Times but there is a population of people, however large it may be, that actually would pay…those are the same people who pay for the physical newspaper subscription. However, that population will already have access to all of the online content given their past newspaper subscription. Hmmmm…so, NY Times is targeting the incidental NY Times reader — what would convince someone like me, an incidental reader, to pay a flat fee for nytimes.com content?
1. If I had a favorite writer whose work I love to follow, who writes primarily via nytimes.com — I just might pay a flat fee
— If this was the case, why not have your writers (especially those with the most engaged supporters) support this flat fee by encouraging their readers (on their own personal platforms of reaching their audiences) to pay a discounted fee to access more of their work?
2. If I was absolutely in love with nytimes.com content and just had never thought to pay for the online content
— Not likely seeing as how if I loved it that much, I would want to support it by keeping it alive and kicking
3. If nytimes.com offered me access to additional content that no one else can find elsewhere — content that involves more in-depth interviews, analyses, assessments by its writers or even content that allows me to get books & other works from the writers before it hits mass production (most probable situation)
I wonder if the NY Times has really thought through what would convince an incidental reader to pay for their subscription fee. If they are not offering me anything different from the rest of the online news media, then I will just go elsewhere to get my information. If I loved the NY Times that much, I probably would already have a print and/or online subscription. If I cared that much about the NY Times, instead of just being an incidental reader, I would probably hit my “monthly limit” within the first few days/week of the month and pay the flat fee. However, if I am just an incidental reader — I need more from the NY Times in order to convert into an actual customer instead of just a consumer of the free information.
Or maybe my assumption that a lot of the visitors to nytimes.com are incidental readers. Whether or not my assumption is right, I hope that The NY Times has thought this move through, from all of its different angles. Otherwise, they are not going to be happy at the end of 2011. Good luck NY Times!
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