New York Times plans paywall, Apple tie-up

19 January 2010
NEW YORK: The New York Times could soon announce the introduction of a paywall system for viewing its content on the web, and a new partnership with Apple linked to its online operations.

Sources told New York magazine's Daily Intel blog that details of the news provider's strategy could be made public within weeks.

One possibility is that the paywall would "dovetail" with an announcement of the Apple agreement.

The tech firm is heavily rumoured to be launching a new tablet computer, which would make it easier for readers to view replicas of print newspaper pages on the web, on January 27th.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is thought to have decided against joining forces with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to lobby for improved terms from search engines including Google, which are a major source of user traffic for news sites.

Over recent months, media companies have been attaching charges to previously free online content in order to shore up revenues.

Readers have been migrating away from print, a trend exacerbated by the global economic downturn beginning in 2008.

The impact of the US recession on ad spend is thought to have been a factor in the Times' decision to impose the paywall.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr, chairman of The New York Times, is thought to be considering a subscription model similar to that currently used by UK business broadsheet The Financial Times.

This system allows online readers to access a preset number of free articles each month, with unlimited access available to subscribers only.

An alternative model is employed by The Wall Street Journal, owned by News Corporation, which charges a blanket subscription fee for access to certain parts of the newspaper's website.

Diane McNulty, a spokeswoman for The New York Times, said: "We'll announce a decision when we believe that we have crafted the best possible business approach. No details till then."

Nytimes.com, which has 20 million unique readers, previously used a system known as TimesSelect, which charged $49.95 (€34.78, £30.66) per year for access to content.

This paywall was dropped in 2007, and the site became entirely free-to-use.

Thomas Friedman, a Times columnist, said that, while he was in favour of the removal of TimesSelect, he is now "pro some kind of pay model" going forward.

"It was clear to me [at the time] I was getting cut off from a lot of my readers in India and China where 50 dollars per year would be equal to a quarter of college tuition," he said.

"My own feeling is, we [now] have to do anything we can to raise money ... At some point we gotta charge for our product."

Data sourced from NYmag.com/The Guardian; additional content by Warc staff.
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