The New York Times has announced that, in honor of the first anniversary of the launch of their digital subscriptions service, they are increasing the restrictions on free access to their content. Under the initial system, non-subscribers got access to 20 free articles per month. Beginning in April, that number will drop to 10.
Most of the other content restrictions remain the same. Users of the Times's tablet and smartphone apps will still be able to access the Top News section of the app without paying. Other sections require users to be digital subscribers. Home delivery subscribers and print subscribers to the International Herald Tribune will still have completely unlimited access to the Times's website. The website front page and all section fronts remain free to browse, as well. Perhaps the best news, though, is that those who get to the Times via email links, social media links, and search results will still be allowed access to those articles, even if they've already hit the ten article limit.
According to the Times, in the year since they first launched the digital subscription service, they have drawn 454,000 subscribers. The Times offers three subscription plans, all of which are currently on sale for $0.99 for four weeks of access. The cheapest plan offers unlimited access to the Times's website and smartphone apps and is regularly $15 for four weeks. The second plan, normally $20 for four weeks, allows unlimited access to the Times's website and tablet apps. The third plan, regularly $35 for four weeks, provides complete digital access to the Times's website, smartphone apps, and tablet apps.
Paywalls are generally unpopular among internet users, but news organizations like the Times insist that they are necessary to maintain revenue streams and continue providing the level of journalism to which readers are accustomed.
What do you think of the New York Times's new digital restrictions? Are you a digital subscriber? Let us know in the comments.