The New York Times is betting that there is a future in online subscription-based newspapers. Today, the venerable publication announces a subscription system that takes effect March 28th in the States and immediately in Canada.
Here's the rundown: Readers are allowed up to 20 articles per month free of charge. Upon clicking that 21st article, readers will be prompted to purchase a subscription. According to the Times, that limit is designed to "draw in subscription revenue from the most loyal readers while not driving away the casual visitors who make up the vast majority of the site's traffic."
There will be three subscription options from which readers can choose, each being paid monthly. The cheapest is a $15 package that includes unlimited web and mobile app access. Next up is the $20 package which includes unlimited web and iPad app access. The all inclusive plan is $35. Of course, if you have an actual paper subscription, everything digital will be free. The plans do not cover subscriptions through e-readers.
The Times' plan will not discourage those who come upon articles via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as the 20-article rule does not apply in those cases. The Times only plans to put a 5 article a day limit on those who access the site through Google.
The times announced over a year ago their intentions of moving to a paid online subscription system. Throughout this time, they remained the most popular newspaper site in the country. News Corp's paid iPad app The Daily has been met with mixed reviews since it's release in early February, but most seem to be knocking its content and presentation rather than the idea of paid digital news. The Daily, although associated with the well known News Corp., was a brand new online news source. The New York Times has millions of loyal readers already, and they seem to have faith that loyalty equates to revenue.
Fact: The Internet is appealing because of all the FREE information available. Do people recognize the Times and others like it as authority sources that are worth the extra few bucks a month? The Times is betting that they do. Arthur Sulzberger, Chairman, is quoted in today's Times as saying,
"This move is an investment in our future," he said. "It will allow us to develop new sources of revenue to support the continuation of our journalistic mission and digital innovation, while maintaining our large and growing audience to support our robust advertising business. And this system is our latest, and best, demonstration of where we believe the future of valued content - be it news, music, games or more - is going."