The best part of today’s New York Times article on the development of its new pay system has to be the hed: ‘Times’s Online Pay Model Was Years in the Making.’
You don’t say!
For people who have been writing about the media for the last four years or more the NYT paywall has essentially been the media’s version of Godot.
But now it’s here, and the NYT is apparently hoping for 300,000 subscribers before the year is out. Considering 30 million unique people in the U.S. alone visit the NYT.com every month, it seems like a modest number. Basically they are hoping one per cent of users sign on.
Just for comparison’s sake the WSJ, which has had a paywall for years, has 1 million subscribers. The Financial Times, whose wall is less lenient than the NYT has proposed, has 200,000.
They took an interesting road to get here:
Executives studied a variety of online business models including those used by Weight Watchers, which charges $17.95 a month plus a $29.95 initiation fee for weight loss guidance, and Apple‘s iTunes service, which popularised the micropayment with the 99-cent song download. They even looked at a donation model and at creating a digital newsstand where people could buy The Times as part of a bundle with subscriptions to local papers and national papers like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Let’s just hope, for the NYT sake, that people want their news as badly as they want to lose weight.
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