New York Times Online Seems Reasonable

As a long time reader of the New York Times online, I read today’s subscription rate email with some initial trepidation. People have grown used to getting news online for free. Or at least without paying the newspapers and other news organizations directly. So I was a little worried about what the Times was going to be charging.

The good news is that the charge seems to be quite reasonable. Unlimited access to and a smartphone app for $1.88/week for the first 26 weeks. If you want the tablet app then it goes to $2.50/week. The NYT subscription page says that these rates are 50% off the regular rate and if you subscribe to the print edition you get online access for free.

NYT Online Subcription Rates

New York Times Online Subcription Rates


I don’t really know why it makes a difference whether you access via a smartphone or tablet, but on the whole these seem like reasonable rates. But will it be enough against a culture addicted to free news? The short answer is no. There will always be people who simply won’t pay. And it should be noted that a lot of NYT content will continue to be freely accessible via Google News and Facebook to name two. The Times doesn’t want to cut itself off from the millions of readers who use those sites everyday in order to maintain ad revenue. Finally, there are already a growing list of sites with instructions on how to defeat the new paywall, oy.

So if free still wins out, why bother with subscription fees at all? Well news costs money to produce, for lack of a better word. Journalists and editors need to eat too! The New York Times produces a very high quality product worthy of being paid for. I think that with a reasonable subscription rate and easy availability on devices like smartphones, and tablets, the Times stands a good chance of improving their bottom line. I don’t think that digital subscription revenue will rival what they get from print, but it should buy them some time as the market transitions from print to digital.

One thing I’m sure of is that the whole print industry will be watching this bold experiment. If successful, it may be the yellow brick road that leads all newspapers to the Emerald City of a digital future. Otherwise the internet cyclone that’s been sweeping away one newspaper after another will leave few survivors. Either way, we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.

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