The NY Times is not only one of the most popular influential newspapers in America, it is also one of the most popular websites. For quite a while you had to have a subscription in order to view articles on the New York Times, but for the past few years they have been fully ad supported, while giving out all of their content for free. This was the last straw for most other online publications, with the Wall Street Journal being the only major publication to continue charging for content.
According to an unnamed senior newsroom source there a decision could be made within weeks on whether or not the Times will go back to charging for their content (Source). The advertising based model was working great while the CPM price for advertising on the web was skyrocketing, but for the past couple years as revenue has declined while print subscriptions are in free fall the Times will have to make a change. There are three different options:
- Wall Street Journal model – Some free content, “premium” content for subscribers only
- Metered – You have to pay some amount per article (May vary based on type of article)
- NPR Model – Special features for being a subscriber
Honestly I think they are most likely to copy the WSJ, I have always wondered why the rest of the papers hadn’t caught on to this. It is a perfect mixture, you feed just enough information to the public that they will get hooked and want to pay for the full subscription. At the same time since there is a limited amount of free content, it will drive up the advertising costs on those articles to make them more profitable.
This is not just about one company, I feel that this is going to become a trend with many major publications within the next two years. It is simple economics, if everybody gives away their “product” for free because other companies are doing it, they will all go out of business. While print newspapers are on the decline we won’t be seeing any major shakeups in terms of the big players as long as they make the internet adapt to them. This is still technically a rumor, but considering the position the Times is in, it is a necessary and inevitable change.
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