This is encouraging.
Less than a month in the New York Times says it already has 100,000 paying customers for its newly installed paywall.
In their first quarter earnings call today the company revealed that “approximately three weeks after the global launch, paid digital subscribers have surpassed 100,000.”
They don’t clarify whether the people who signed through the Lincoln deal are included in these numbers (the deal was reportedly offered to 200,000 non print subscribers) but the use of the word “paid” suggests its not. I’ve reached out to the NYT for clarification and will update when I hear back.
Update: The NYT clarifies the 100,000 subscribers does not include those who signed on through the Lincoln deal. However they do include a launch promotion that offered a four-week trial for $0.99. So it remains to be seen whether the latter stick around past next week.
To have already acquired a third of that number is stunning and will likely be taken as a sign by other news organisations that a paywall is not as discouraging to readers as many feared.
Just to give you a sense of how big this number is so soon, consider that the Financial Times, which started charging its readers back in 2002, only reached 200,000 subscribers in January.
Obviously the NYT attracts a larger readership, and presumably the amount of breaking news in the past few months has helped boost subscribers, and yes it is still early days, but the company has to be encouraged by these numbers nonetheless.