New York Times Announces Digital Subscriptions a.k.a Paywall

In What's the Buzz by Hannah Johnson

NY Times digital subscription

By Hannah Johnson

The New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. announced today the launch date and additional details of “digital subscriptions” for the New York Times — also known as a paywall. Digital subscriptions launched today for Canadian readers, which according to the announcement “will enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch.”

The global launch will take place on March 28. Readers will have access to 20 online articles a month for free. After that, you’ll have to pay. The “Top News” section of every app will remain free.

Sulzberger wrote that the launch of digital subscriptions “will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform.”

The big question is really whether or not a widely-read newspaper like the New York Times can succeed in converting readers into paying customers. Both The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times have paywalls on their websites, but these papers could be seen as serving a niche audience, unlike the New York Times.

The Times of London and its Sunday Times of London launched their stringent paywall earlier this year with an all-or-nothing pricing structure that requires readers to pay for every article they want to access. NPR reported today:

The online audience for the two papers plummeted from 20 million monthly unique online readers to a little more than 100,000. There were only approximately 54,000 paying monthly digital subscribers. The Times of London called it a success in its early stages, but outsiders question that logic.

Many media companies and web publishers will be watching closely as the Times rolls out its new subscriptions. Monetizing online content has been a major challenge for many publishers, and if the New York Times can succeed, it could prompt other web publishers to follow suit with subscriptions of their own.

The Times digital subscription has three tiers: 1) online plus smartphone app for $15 every four weeks; 2) online plus tablet app for $20 every four weeks; and 3) unlimited online and app access for $35 every four weeks.

Print subscribers will receive either a discount on the digital subscription or free online access, depending on the level of the print subscription (daily, M-F, weekend only, Sunday only, etc.).

For more information, check out the digital subscription FAQ on the NY Times website.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson is the Deputy Publisher of Publishing Perspectives since 2009. Previously, she worked as Project Manager at the German Book Office New York. Find her on Twitter @hannahsjohnson.