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Christopher Beck

Founder and Chief Vision Officer, 26 Dot Two

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What is your feeling on the New York Times online subscription model ?

The New York Times announced their long anticipated Paywall for Digital readers starting March 28th. The initial model is if you consume over 20 stories per month online with your iPhone or iPad you will pay $15 every four weeks, links are still free.

If anyone has the brand equity to pull this off (other than the Wall Street Journal) it would be the NYT. There is no secret on the plunge of readership of Print Newspapers over the last 5 years. In the age of Instant news and twitter feeds the consumption of news through a printed document that was put to bed 1/2 a day or more before you read it seems archaic to many.

If this was done 2 or 3 years ago it would be met with different reception than today. The dramatic growth of tablets and targeted news aggregators like Flipboard, Zuni and Pulse, targeted ones like Mashable, the increasing influence of bloggers means this evolution will probably not create the desired impact for their bottom-line. Just as Craigs list robbed the print editions of classified revenues, I feel the explosion of news aggregators and APPS probably means they are to late to the party.

The question is the long term survival of the model including not only how many people will actually “pony up” but what the churn rate of those subscribing will be, we believe it will be very high. While there may be Regional adaptation of the model in the New York City/ Tri State area there is simply too much free information available to make this work. The better solution would be for them to figure out how to better monetize their content through advertising a model that works for Google, Pandora an virtually everyone providing news/entertainment in the digital space.

Your thoughts?

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    Mar 21 2011: Charging works for the WSJ and the FT.

    It something has value and is expensive to produce, it seems logical that those who really do find it useful and/or interesting should be willing to help offset some of the cost of production. Does it make logical sense that we're all content to pay for 3 minute pop songs but shudder at paying for top quality, on the scene reporting and analysis?
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      Mar 22 2011: I totally agree Lise. There is a lot of money and effort put into generating these news. Not everybody may be willing to pay. But they must find a way to monetize it, otherwise their quality will drop, as it is dropping now in many newspapers!
    • Mar 22 2011: Charging works for the WSJ and the FT because of their highly specialized financial content. The NYT does not have that sort of material. The NYT's bread-and-butter is their editorial section, but that will not suffice online. The internet is already full of pundits (bloggers, HuffPo, RCP, etc.), and I can't imagine that too many people will be willing to pay $20/month to read another set of pithy musings.
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        Mar 22 2011: I agree that specialization is a good reason to pay, but the NYT is not any newspaper, it is a global reference. What I don't see why anybody would pay for is for the Daily, you can get that type of content for free in many other places, they don't go into that much depth, nor have the history or the writers of the NYT. The NYT knows that not everybody will pay, that is why they have the meter! Maybe their strategy is just not targeted to you.

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