The New York Times, recognized as one of the top daily newspapers in the world, has decided to pursue a two-tiered approach regarding the online reading of its news. The Times announced recently that it will use a metered model plan allowing readers access to its web pages by offering a certain number of pages free per month before charging fees once viewers have exhausted that limit.
Monetizing The Web
The proposed change for the Times comes as the newspaper evaluates how best to harness all of its web traffic—it is the top newspaper owned website—while monetizing it better. The Times briefly tried to charge for online viewing of its newspaper a few years back but discontinued that plan when its traffic dropped.
Right now the Times makes tens of millions off of online advertising, but it loses much more money with its shrinking print business. The newspaper believes that there is more money for it to gain by coming up with a pricing model.
Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company and publisher of The New York Times thinks that the new model will work saying, “Our audiences are very loyal and we believe that our readers will pay for our award-winning digital content and services.” He also remarked that the new business model will allow the Times to continue down its path of offering “extraordinary, professional journalism.”
A Big Mistake?
Some have criticized the Times for considering such a plan, believing online access to news should remain free. However, many of these same people felt the same about Napster which transformed itself from a free music downloading site to one where they began to charge subscriptions. Napster is a success story with more than 9 million songs available for download.
For The New York Times their situation is a bit different, which means that finding the right balance between free and paid will be important. And, coming up with a pricing plan that won’t turn off readers will be essential if its newest plan has any chance of succeeding.
The Times won’t be implementing its metered model until sometime in 2011, giving the newspaper plenty of time to upgrade its website and prepare for the transition. Expect the newspaper to work diligently at preserving its current advertising revenue while developing a second stream of income.
More information about the metered model is expected over the coming months.
The Journal Charges
A number of bloggers have criticized the Times for its strategy claiming that it will not work, with some believing that they are entitled to free news and that they will find it elsewhere. But if the success of The Wall Street Journal is any indication—they have their own hybrid pricing strategy—then the Times just may find their own sweet spot and thrive online.
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