April 12, 2011 Michael Bickerton
So it begins, the New York Times is introducing a new program designed to start the process of collecting revenue from its readers. As we all know the newspaper business is in big trouble, where the news business is driving content. The distinguishing factor is that news and the delivery (the paper) are now separate items.
The NY Times has taken a position that the first 20 articles are free and on the 21st article users will have an option to purchase a 4 week subscription for $15.00 (web and iPhone app), or $20.00 for (web and iPad app). I find it interesting that they are distinguishing between the iPhone and the iPad.
Every newspaper has been struggling to monetize their online editions; we’ve had almost 15 years of free content in the news business. Currently the NY Times has over 30 million monthly readers, and they estimate that only about 15% of readers will reach the 20-article threshold.
A great article that will impact us all in the years ahead. Free is a business model, however, US newspaper revenue continues to decline both in print and digital and 2009 was the worst year on record. So this is about survival.
When announced there were over 2500 comments on its website. One reader “The price is too high. I just cannot afford it. I will go to BBC.com or CNN.com. Sorry, NYT, you picked the wealthy again.” This prompted another comment, “The ‘wealthy?’ It’s two lunches at McDonalds. For a month of reporting. I’m happy to support the NYT for such a low price.”
I guess the proof will be in the pudding. I’d suggest that we get independent reporting by the general public, or very biased reporting, depending on your view. I get my news on Twitter, as the newspapers continue to fight for readership or viewership, it will continue to be free. A tough road ahead for the news business as far as I can see.
I follow the New York Times on Twitter, and get all the news I can read FREE, at least for now.
Michael Bickerton, Raven5 Ltd, Toronto, April 2011